Cruise Ship Medical Malpractice

Passengers on cruise ships can be injured in thousands of different ways. No matter what the cause of the accident, today’s cruise ship passenger expects competent medical care from the onboard doctors and nurses. If the medical care is subpar and a person’s injury is made worse or misdiagnosed by these professionals, the cruise ship company may be responsible for paying damages to the injured person for cruise ship medical malpractice.

Unfortunately, many cruise lines have not invested as much as they should into finding and training experienced, qualified medical staff for their cruise ships. If a doctor or nurse’s negligence or carelessness caused an injury to you or your loved one, the experienced the cruise ship medical malpractice attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. are here to help. 

Can You File A Medical Malpractice Claim Against a Cruise Ship Doctor?

For over a century, the concept of suing a cruise line for medical malpractice while on board a ship or oceangoing vessel did not exist. Courts around the country held that shipping companies, cruise lines, and other ship owners could not be held responsible for the negligence of doctors on board. For most of sailing history, most boats and ships could not spare the space, crew, or the equipment needed to staff a fully equipped hospital. Thus, courts held that passengers could not expect the same type of medical treatment on a ship that they could on land. The doctors and nurses on board a ship were viewed as independent contractors, rather than employees, and the companies that hired them could not be held liable for their actions.

In 2014, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned this line of thinking in a case called Franza v. Royal Caribbean. That court stated that the prior rule was outdated and noted that many modern cruise ships not only have seemingly endless luxury amenities for passengers, but also include state-of-the-art medical facilities and intensive care units. The court found no reason to protect cruise lines from medical malpractice claims filed due to treatment aboard the ship so long as the injured person could prove that the medical professional was acting as an employee rather than an independent contractor.

The Franza court listed several factors that outline when a cruise line may be responsible for its doctors’ negligent acts. For example, if the cruise line:

  • Advertised its medical center or medical staff to passengers;
  • Retained the right to hire and fire medical staff;
  • Required the medical staff to wear the ship’s uniform and sail under the ship’s officers;
  • Pays salaries to doctors, nurses or other staff;
  • Handles stocking the hospital with supplies, equipment, and medicine; or
  • Bills passengers’ shipboard charge card for medical services; then it is more likely than not that the cruise line is treating its medical staff as employees and will be responsible for any acts of medical negligence that they commit.
Cruise Lines Know Passengers Need Medical Care

Cruise ship doctors and nurses are expected to handle a wide range of medical problems. From immediate, short-term injuries like cuts or broken bones to maintaining treatment protocols for patients with long-term or chronic conditions, medical personnel on board must be thoroughly trained in both general and emergency medicine.

Many people, especially retirees, would never sail without assurance that there is competent medical care available on board. More than half of people who seek medical care on a cruise ship are over the age of 65, and a large percentage have chronic or pre-existing medical conditions that necessitate medical treatment no matter where they are.

As a result, cruise ships lines often put their medical facilities front-and-center in their marketing materials. What is being promised in the brochure may not be the full story, however. For instance, some cruise lines fail to inform passengers that their state of the art amenities and brand new facilities do not include basic medical necessities like an MRI or CT scanner. Or, they may forget to mention that while all their doctors are licensed to practice medicine, none are licensed to practice in the United States. If you or a loved one were injured due due medical malpractice on a cruise ship don't wait. Our lawyers are standing by to answer your questions. For a free consultation with a cruise ship lawyer in Miami, Florida call us at 1-877-475-2905 or call contact us online. 

Common Injuries Leading to Cruise Ship Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

On a cruise to an exotic location, doctors and nurses aboard the ship are often the only source of medical treatment available. When the onboard medical staff fails to adequately and competently treat an individual who is sick or injured, there may be medical negligence. Examples of medical negligence include:

  • Failure To diagnose
  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • Failure To Provide Prompt Medical Treatment
  • Incorrect Medical Treatment 
  • Denied Medical Treatment 

It is not uncommon for passengers to be denied treatment. For example, doctors may refuse to do an initial evaluation if they don’t believe the passenger is seriously hurt. Or, the ship’s doctors may recognize that a patient needs more treatment than the ship’s facilities can survive, and may refuse to treat a patient in hopes of sending that person to a doctor on shore.

Injured by Cruise Ship Medical Malpractice? We Can Help.

If you or a family member was injured on a cruise and the onboard medical personnel refused to help, or if you were injured by medical negligence while sailing on a cruise, you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking damages for your injuries. The cruise ship medical malpractice attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, PA will help you fight for justice and fair compensation.

For more information about how we can help, contact our office today by calling (877) 475-2905.

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