A Harris County woman filed a petition in the Galveston County District Court demanding up to $1 million in damages for a cruise ship injury she suffered in May 2017. The plaintiff in this matter, Michelle Wilson, is suing the operator of the ship on which she allegedly slipped and fell, the Jacks or Better 1. The operator is a Florida-based company called Cruises to Nowhere, LLC.
The Case Against Cruises to Nowhere
Passengers on cruise ships who are injured while traveling have certain legal rights. Specific maritime laws allow you to file suit against the party whose negligence you believe is responsible for your injuries.
Wilson claims in her suit that she suffered “severe and lasting” injuries when she fell on the cruise ship. She says her fall was due to the slippery surface of a “hazardous” deck where she fell as she was walking to the vessel’s casino. Her suit claims the surface was slippery because of both moisture and the absence of a non-slip coating.
She says her cruise ship injury could have been avoided by proper maintenance and inspection procedures.
According to Wilson, she was walking along that particular deck because the ship’s crew announced the ship had crossed to federal waters. Cruises to Nowhere, LLC runs gambling-themed cruises on ships like the Jacks or Better 1. Passengers must wait for the crew’s announcement that they have crossed into federal waters before engaging in any gambling in order to be in compliance with the law. To begin gambling, passengers must walk from other areas of the ship into the ship’s casino.
Wilson’s mention of the timing is an implication that she had the express invitation of crew members to walk on that deck at that time. Her suit also makes the allegation that crew members did not warn her about the slippery conditions where she would be walking.
Cruise Ship Injury Caused By Fall
Wilson claims her fall resulted in serious injuries including:
- Mental anguish and decreased quality of life
With her lawsuit, Wilson is attempting to recover the cost of her medical bills and her lost income. She says her injuries were so severe that they have affected her ability to earn income.
Neither Cruises to Nowhere, LLC or the crew of the Jacks or Better 1 have made any public statements about the lawsuit. The crux of Wilson’s case against the cruise operator will be in proving the cruise line’s negligence. Wilson alleges the floor where she fell did not have non-skid coating, but the burden of proof will be upon her and her legal team to prove the lack of non-slip measures constitutes negligence.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents on Cruise Ships
Slip and fall injuries are one of the most common cruise ship injuries among pleasure cruise passengers. The proximity to water and the general bustle of a cruise facilitate conditions for a disastrous slip and fall. Other causes of cruise ship injury due to slipping and falling include:
- Surfaces that become slippery when wet
- Walkway obstructions
- Inadequate safety rails or handrails
- Poor lighting
- Missing non-slip paint or coating
- Spills in walkways
- Unexpected ledges or surfaces in passenger cabins
While aboard a ship, it is simply not possible for decks to be dry at all times, and sometimes passengers trip and fall without any prompting. However, the majority of these common causes of slip and fall injuries are preventable.
With regard to wet decks, the crew members have a responsibility to mark slippery conditions and to warn passengers about them. In short, they must do everything in their power to make sure no one falls and is hurt while aboard the ship.
What Kind of Injuries do Slips and Falls Cause?
Slipping and falling on dry land is serious enough, but slipping on the slick surface of a crowded cruise ship in motion can cause grievous injury when the person who slipped falls in unpredictable ways. If you slip and fall while on a cruise, you may be vulnerable to a cruise ship injury, including:
- Knee injuries
- Sprained or broken ankle
- Sprained or broken wrist
- Head or brain injuries
- Torn ligaments
- Neck and shoulder injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal injury or paralysis
Most slip and fall injuries are fairly minor, but many do cause severe and life changing injuries.
What are My Rights if I Slip and Fall on a Cruise Ship?
Owners and operators of cruise ships have a responsibility to provide reasonably safe walking surfaces for both their passengers and the employees. When safe conditions are not maintained, passengers and employees may have grounds to file a lawsuit. Examples of these lawsuits include:
- In 2011, a woman was awarded $2.9 million in a lawsuit against Carnival. She suffered a devastating knee injury that required six surgeries after slipping and falling onboard the Carnival Pride. Carnival admitted to using a resin surface on the pool deck, which had been previously reported to be slippery causing falls.
- In another cruise ship injury lawsuit, a cruise ship cook successfully sued his employer after suffering paralysis of the lower half of his body after falling down a set of stairs. It was determined that the stairs did not have a non-skid surface.
If you ever fall on a cruise ship, don’t assume it’s only an embarrassing accident. It is possible the cruise line is liable for the conditions which led to your fall. If so, you may be able to recover the costs associated with your injuries.
Liability and Cruise Ship Injury Claims
If you have questions about liability, ask yourself:
- Was the deck wet?
- Where did the water come from?
- How long had it been there?
- Was the floor surface slippery or did it have non-slip protections?
Though we all have a certain responsibility about where we place our feet, as a passenger or employee you have a right to expect safe walking surfaces on a cruise ship. When injuries occur in a maritime setting, it is possible to seek a substantial award, as Ms. Wilson has done, in order to recover costs of:
- Medical bills
- Lost income, including actual lost wages and lost earning potential
- Medical devices
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation services
- Mental suffering
The damages that you can pursue will depend on the facts of your case. No two lawsuits are the same. Consequently, that is why it is important to work with a skilled maritime injury attorney to find the options that are best for you.
Have Questions About a Cruise Ship Injury?
If you have questions about a cruise ship injury, contact Maritime Injury Guide to speak with one of our maritime injury attorneys. We can certainly help you understand your rights and determine if you have an actionable claim. If so, you may be able to pursue substantial compensation for your cruise ship injury.
To get started, schedule a free injury consultation by calling 1-866-871-8422, or by filling out our online form.