What Should You do After a Cruise Ship Accident?
If you are seriously injured in a cruise ship accident you need to take certain steps to preserve your legal rights. Cruise line operators and their employees are trained to act in a way that protects the cruise line from legal liability. If you are an injured passenger due to the negligence of a cruise line operator, there are several things you can do to help preserve your potential legal claim for your injuries. In the past, what to do after a cruise ship accident might not have been a topic many people concerned themselves with before embarking on a cruise. However, in light of number of serious shipboard injuries and recent cruise ship accidents and disasters, it is an appropriate thought to have and it is a good idea to know what to do if your or a loved on are injured on a cruise. Of course, hiring a lawyer with experience pursuing legal claims against cruise lines is the ultimate course of action. But, before you contact an attorney that handles negligence claims against cruise lines, here are a few tips you follow if your or a loved one are injured.Seek Medical Attention in Ship Infirmary
Your first priority after any accident is of course your health. This may not come as a surprise but it's the truth. So, whether you believe you were seriously injured or are not sure your first course of action should always be about making sure that you receive prompt first aid and medical attention as possible. For injured passengers or crew members while still in navigable waters, this usually means going to the ship medical center and getting prompt medical treatment from the ship medical staff. This is also an opportunity for documenting what happened.
If the cruise ship wants to charge you for their services don't let the ship medical fees intimidate you. This money will likely be reimbursed down the road if the cruise liner's negligence caused or contributed to your shipboard injuries. The fact that the ship medical center will want to charge you is usually to just discourage people from seeking medical help in the first place. This is commonly used against innocent passengers as way to argue that the cruise ship negligence was not a legal cause of your injuries.
Failing to seek medical treatment onboard is also a common defense raised that may be used in an attempt to avoid having to pay for the harms and losses once a cruise ship injury claim is presented.Get Copies of Your Medical Records and Reports
After an incident and you report your complaints to the cruise ship medical staff we always recommend injured passengers and even crew members obtain copies of their medical records, forms, and other documentation from the vessel. Once your medical needs are taken care of it is now time to follow these addtional steps to ensure your legal rights are preserved.Report Your Cruise Ship Accident Personal Injury Claim Immediately
After an accident at sea, report how, what, and the fact that you were injured. Reporting that you were injured is critical. By reporting your incident, will usually initiate a shipboard investigation. United States Coast Guard Regulations require certain forms and investigations are undertaken in the event of an injury that requires medical treatment is provided beyond first aid. If you fail to report your injury, or your injury is not reported, this could make proving your legal claim and cruise liner negligence not just difficult but in some cases legally impossible.
You cruise ship accident injury claim should be reported to someone that works for the cruise line and with investigating authority. Typically, this will be the ship's safety or security officer. You should provide them straightforward information about how the accident occurred. Provide as many facts as you can about why you believe you were injured and the cruise ship's failure that led to you being injured. Write down as much detail as possible about the conditions you observed. While you do this, you should neither assign nor accept blame for the incident. If possible, get a copy of any an all reports and forms you are asked to sign and fill out.Get a Copy of Your Passenger Injury Statement and Other Documents
Most of the ship incident reports and passenger injury statement forms you are required to fill out are prepared by cruise line lawyers and are designed to be written in a way to avoid legal liability. For example, many cruise ship accident documents like the "passenger injury statement" asks injured passengers "what they could have done to prevent the accident?" This is somewhat of a trick question. What someone could have done to prevent an accident is not necessary for providing medical treatment. Interestingly enough, there is nowhere on the sane document to ask what the cruise line could have done to prevent the accident from occurring.
During the shipboard investigation tell the investigating officer what happened to the best of your ability and without exaggeration. If you can record the conversation in some way then do it. If you believe defective equipment was involved then explain to the officer why it caused the incident. If the conditions of the floor were wet and you slipped and fell then write that down in your passenger injury statement.
Be careful what you say too. The ship safety or security officer will use the information that you provide to create an incident report about how you were injured. It is a similar report to a police report and is also intended to capture the "who, what, where, when and how" of your incident. But don't expect to get a copy or for it to portray all the facts known about how the incident occurred.
Many injured passengers are surprised to find out that many cruise ship written reports and internal investigative materials do not have to be disclosed under federal maritime law. Injured passengers are legally entitled to a copy of their own recorded statements, medical records and a copy of their passenger injury statement. But you will likely need to formally request them from the cruise line. This can be done through an attorney who represents passengers for cruise ship negligence. But our law firm recommends you do so before you debark. Of course, we recommend to contact a cruise ship lawyer in Florida to assist gathering these important documents if you were injured.
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Almost everyone carries a cell phone with a camera these days. Use them to take pictures of how, what, and where your ship board accident happened. Take as many different photos and video as possible. If you were injured in a slip, trip or fall then take photographs to document the conditions as soon as possible. Use pictures to document the floor conditions, such as floor surface, evidence of wear and tear, ambient lighting conditions, weather conditions, traffic, or any caution signs, wet floor signs, or any other signage (or lack thereof), and any other factors that could be pertinent to how you were injured.
If you were injured in a trip and fall then take pictures of the tripping hazard. If you were injured due to some other vessel mechanical malfunction then take photos of the hazard or any equipment that may have been involved. If you feel that your pictures do not accurately capture the layout of the ship surface or conditions, take a video of the area.
At Gerson & Schwartz, PA our cruise ship personal injury lawyers are located in Miami, Florida and routinely litigate cases against all of the major cruise lines. We always recommend cruise injury victims try and take as many pictures as you can order to protect your legal rights. If you or a loved one were seriously injured on a cruise and you didn't follow these steps then don't panic. We can still help you. But wont wait and call us today.Get The Names of all Witnesses After a Cruise Ship Accident
In a cruise ship claim, evidence can come in the forms of documents, records, reports, video, photographs and of course witnesses statements. After a serious injury on a cruise ship, or any other personal injury claim witnesses are vital to proving your legal claim in the court room. So get the name of all persons even crew who may have saw or heard how you were injured. This should include the names, emails, phone numbers, social medial emails and home addresses of every person who may have witnessed the incident or can attest to the conditions at the time of your injury.
After any injury, the burden of proof is on the injured party. So, getting the names and information of witnesses that can corroborate the conditions that may have led to your accident on a cruise ship is important. After a serious injury on a cruise ship you should also attempt to get the full names, ranks, emails, and positions of all of the ship's crew that were involved in the incident. This includes whether the names of all crew members who investigated the incident, or were involved as witnesses, first-aid providers or played some other role such actual participants in the cruise ship negligence.
In some cases, witness information after the fact can help too. In any cruise ship litigation, getting the names of witnesses is critical. If you do not get this information now, you may lose your chance at locating them in the future.After a Serious Injury on a Cruise Ship Take Pictures of Your Injuries
Be sure to get high-detail pictures of any cuts, bruises or scrapes that you have suffered. If possible, take the picture with a readily identifiable object near so as to provide a familiar scale. If necessary, have a friend or companion take the pictures. This is potential evidence that you need to preserve. It may be days or even weeks before your cruise is over and bruises, cuts and swelling may have faded by the time you get home. Bruise, cuts and other evidence of trauma can be used to document your serious injuries that can't be readily observed and be used as evidence defeat some of the cruise lines defenses that your injuries are not related.
Contact a Cruise Injury Lawyer at Gerson & Schwartz, PA
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Finally, due to the complex nature of the law surrounding shipboard injuries, you should talk to an experience cruise ship attorney who is experienced in dealing with the myriad variables that surround cruise ship injury claims under federal maritime law. The Florida cruise ship accident lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz PA have over 46 years of experience of dealing with injured clients in cruise ship accidents and serious personal injury claims. We assist injured passengers and cree members from all over the world too. For a free consultation with a lawyer who specializes in cruise ship accident claims in Florida call us toll free at (877) 475-2905. Or you can email us about your case at firstname.lastname@example.org.