I’ve written about slip and fall settlements and claims with Royal Caribbean. However, here, I’m mostly going to discuss general injury claims against Royal Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean cruise ships are often referred to as floating hotels. However, there are some differences between an injury claim against Royal Caribbean and a claim against a hotel on land.
Royal Caribbean Won’t Quickly Pay Your Medical Bills
Many hotels have medical payments coverage on their liability insurance policy.
Medical payments coverage covers medical bills regardless of fault. This means that you don’t have to prove that the premises owner did anything wrong in order to get your bills paid.
This typically results in the injured person getting their medical bills paid quickly.
The bad news with Royal Caribbean?
This isn’t the case with Royal Caribbean (and other cruise lines). Search court records and you won’t be able to find a single case where Royal Caribbean has medical payments coverage.
This means that in order to get his or her medical bills paid, the injured person will have to prove that Royal Caribbean’s negligence caused his or her injury.
Royal Caribbean Must Be Negligent (For The Injured Person to Get Compensation)
If the injured person can show that Royal Caribbean’s negligence caused his or her injury, he is entitled to compensation. (Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care under the circumstances.)
The passenger would then be entitled to compensation for noneconomic damages and economic damages.
What are Non-Economic damages?
Non-economic damages are injury, pain, disability, disfigurement, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life.
Economic damages are past and future lost income, past and future medical expenses, funeral expenses, damage to personal property, mileage to medical appointments and more.
Settlement Value is Reduced By the Passenger’s Fault
Let’s assume that the injured passenger can show that Royal Caribbean’s negligence caused his or her injury. Royal Caribbean can still argue that the passenger was also negligent in causing the accident.
In a negligence lawsuit against a cruise line, contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault, but does not bar recovery.
That sounds confusing. It isn’t.
It just means that if the court finds that Royal Caribbean was negligent, it will then be asked whether the passenger was negligent. Assume that they assign 25% negligence to the passenger for causing the injury.
If the passenger is 25% at fault, these damages are reduced proportionately by his comparative fault, which is 25%.
The hard part is knowing your percentage of fault. You need to know this to calculate the value of the case.
Does Comparative Fault Prevent the Passenger from Getting Compensation?
No. Even if a passenger is 51% at fault, he can still recover 49% of his total damages. This is a good law for injured cruise passengers.
Are There Damage Caps in Royal Caribbean Cruise Cases?
There is generally no caps on economic damages, or pain and suffering damages against Royal Caribbean.
However, in any negligence lawsuit where the jury decides that the defendant is liable and enters an award of damages for the injured party, the court may review the amount of the award. The review is to determine if such amount is excessive or inadequate in light of the facts and circumstances which were presented to jury.
The appeals court can also review a trial court verdict and reduce the damages if it finds that they are excessive.
Victims of a Crime on a Royal Caribbean Cruise
Do victims of a crime on a Royal Caribbean cruise have a case?
Maybe. If poor or careless security leads to a passenger getting badly hurt on a Royal Caribbean cruise, the victim may have a case.
Crimes may include rape, sexual assault, molestation, physically assault and more.
Is There a Time Limit to Sue Royal Caribbean for Personal Injury or Death?
Yes, it is listed in the Royal Caribbean passenger cruise ticket. The ticket is on Royal Caribbean’s website.
It says that you must give Royal Caribbean notice within six (6) months of injury or death.
Notice must be sent to:
c/o Royal Caribbean
1050 Caribbean way, Miami, Fl 33132
Lawsuit: Within 1 year from injury or death
Service of Process: 120 days after filing
Cruise/Cruisetour Ticket Contract
Where Lawsuit Must Be Filed: United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida Located in Miami-Dade County, Florida
Can the Passenger Sue If a Family Member is Killed on a Royal Caribbean Cruise?
The Death on the High Seas Act allows the passenger to sue for economic damages. Economic damages are typically the loss of net accumulations and funeral expenses. Net accumulation is the money that the decedent would’ve had at the time of death (if the accident never happened). Decedent is someone who dies.
The bad news for the family members who are killed on a Royal Caribbean ship?
Family members can’t sue for their mental pain and suffering. Who does this apply to?
- Spouses (husband or wife)
- Kids (Both minor children or adult children)
- Parents of a minor child, or parents of adult children
This is a HUGE difference from cases where someone is injured at a hotel (in Florida). Some of the largest verdicts and settlements are for the pain and suffering from the death of a family member who is killed at a hotel (in Florida).
Take the tragic case of the boy who was killed by an alligator at a Disney. Since the boy was under the age of 25, his parents had a claim for their pain and suffering if they can prove that Disney was negligent. (It’s my opinion that Disney likely offered them a big settlement for their pain and suffering.)
Now let’s assume that the same boy was killed on a Royal Caribbean ship. In this case, the parents would not get compensation for their pain and suffering.
However, as mentioned above, if a family member is killed on a Royal Caribbean ship, family members can still recover for economic damages.
Spouse Usually Can’t Make a Loss of Consortium Claim
This issue was recently addressed in a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean. In October 2016, Disler and Weber took a vacation on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas cruise ship. This isn’t my case.
David Disler and his partner, Kurt Weber, sued Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. following a medical incident that occurred on a Royal Caribbean ship. They used a Miami lawyer to represent them.
They sued in federal court in Miami. This is because Royal Caribbean’s passenger ticket requires lawsuits to be filed in Miami. If they would’ve tried to sue in any other city in the United States, the case would’ve been dismissed.
Disler and Weber claim that Disler suffered a stroke while aboard the Anthem of the Seas. They alleged that Royal Caribbean’s failure to authorize Disler’s medical evacuation left him with permanent brain damage and partial paralysis.
Brain damage and paralysis often result in some of the largest settlements and verdicts against cruise lines. They full value of brain damage or paralysis is usually worth multiples of other injuries like a herniated disc, bulging disc, broken hand or wrist, fractured patella (kneecap) and many other injuries.
According to Disler and Weber, Disler would have made a full recovery had the Captain of the cruise ship properly ordered the medical evacuation.
Royal Caribbean Medical Malpractice Victims Don’t Have to Comply with Florida’s Strict Pre-Suit Requirements
While the case didn’t discuss this, I want to point out some “good” news for injured cruise passengers. When suing a cruise ship for medical malpractice, the victim doesn’t have to comply with Florida’s state law medical malpractice pre-lawsuit notice requirements.
Florida’s state medical malpractice pre-lawsuit law requires the injured person to have an expert witness doctor complete an affidavit that states that a doctor committed medical malpractice.
Why does this matter?
Expert witnesses aren’t cheap. They often charge $450 per hour and upwards to review medical records.
Don’t get too excited. During the lawsuit, Disler will still need a doctor to say that Royal Caribbean should have evacuated him.
Ok. Back to the consortium claim.
Weber sued for loss of consortium. On April 23, 2018, the judge dismissed Weber’s loss of consortium claim.
The court said that “Neither the Jones Act nor general maritime law authorizes recovery for loss of society or consortium in personal injury cases.” Lollie v. Brown Marine Serv., Inc., 995 F.2d 1565, 1565 (11th Cir. 1993).
Thus, the spouse of someone injured on a Royal Caribbean cruise can’t make a claim for their loss of society due to their spouse’s injury.
The court let the passenger’s medical malpractice claim continue.
Also, in the case of Berns v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., the court dismissed a passenger’s loss of consortium claim. No. 14-21428-CIV, 2014 WL 11997835, at *3 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 26, 2014).
What are the Names of Royal Caribbean’s Ships?
- Allure of the Seas
- Harmony of the Seas
- Oasis of the Seas
- Freedom of the Seas
- Independence of the Seas
- Liberty of the Seas
- Navigator of the Seas
- Mariner of the Seas
- Adventure of the Seas
- Explorer of the Seas
- Jewel of the Seas
- Brilliance of the Seas
- Serenade of the Seas
- Radiance of the Seas
- Splendour of the Seas
- Symphony of the Seas
- Enchantment of the Seas
- Grandeur of the Seas
- Vision of the Seas
- Rhapsody of the Seas
- Legend of the Seas
- Majesty of the Seas
- Voyager of the Seas
Injured on Royal Caribbean or Someone Else? Call Me Now!
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