Florida is arguably the cruise capital of the world as it contains some of the busiest ports by passenger volume including Port Miami, Port Everglades, and Port Canaveral. Port Miami, for example, had over 1,000 ships docked in 2017 and handled over 5.6 million passengers. When a passenger buys a ticket on a cruise, whether they know it or not, they are signing a ticket contract. These contracts are binding between the passenger and the cruise line and have important provisions that affect the rights of passengers if they are injured on a ship.
The ticket contract that is signed by passengers is generally multiple pages of small font that looks something like a "terms of agreement" form that people encounter on a daily basis. Below is the first page of the 13-page ticket contract for Royal Caribbean:
Chances are that most people that receive this contract do not read it in its entirety. However, failing to read the contract does not mean that you are not bound by its terms. Numerous courts have continuously upheld various provisions in the contract. We have highlighted some of the most important provisions that are common in these types of contracts below.
Forum Selection Clause
This provision of the contract sets forth the particular court where a passenger can bring a lawsuit. The Royal Caribbean sample contract has the following language:
This provision is buried on page 7 of the 13 page contract and ultimately it requires a passenger to file a lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida in Miami-Dade County. This means that even if you are a resident of some place like North Dakota and you sign this contract and you are injured on a cruise, you will be forced to file a lawsuit in Miami-Dade County. Although a person could hire a lawyer in North Dakota that could then get admitted in the Southern District of Florida, most lawyers don't want to do this. That is why it is important to seek competent local counsel to handle your case here in South Florida.
Another very important provision that is common in most of the ticket contracts is the time limitation. In Florida, with some exceptions such as medical malpractice, most general negligence claims that don't involve death have a four-year statute of limitations. If this is the applicable statute of limitations, this means a person would have four years from the date of the event to file a lawsuit. That is not the case if you have signed a ticket contract and you are injured aboard a cruise ship. See the language below:
As you can see, this language requires "written notice of claim" delivered to the cruise line no later than six months from the date of injury. Also, a passenger would have to file the lawsuit within a year of the injury and accomplish service 120 days after filing the lawsuit.
This provision severely limits the time an injured individual has to notify the defendant carrier and to file suit.
There are other provisions within most ticket contracts that impair a passenger's rights to seek a remedy if they have been injured on a ship. The cruise lines are large, sophisticated companies that intentionally make it difficult for passengers to recover. If you have been injured on a cruise ship and you have to file a lawsuit in Miami-Dade County, it is a smart idea to hire an attorney that is located in South Florida and that is experienced in handling these types of cases so they can fight for your rights.
Types of Cases we handle
At Bodenheimer Personal Injury Law Firm, P.A., we handle all types of injury or death cases against the cruise lines including:
- Ice Skating Injuries
- FlowRider Injuries
- Injuries from defective equipment
- Injuries from dangerous conditions
- Injuries from cruise line negligence
- All other types of injuries suffered on a cruise ship
We handle these cases against all of the cruise lines including Azamora, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, Princess, Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America, MSC, Oceania, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea, Viking Ocean, and Windstar.
Contact us today
If you've been injured on a cruise ship, contact us today. We are experienced in handling injury cases against the cruise lines. As you can see from the contract provisions shown above, you have to act fast if you have been injured on a cruise ship as your rights could be forever gone if you fail to comply with the time limitations in the ticket contract. At Bodenheimer Personal Injury Law Firm, our main office is located in Hollywood, Florida but we handle cases throughout the State of Florida. You can reach us at (954) 712-7402, [email protected] ,or you can fill out a contact form on this website. Let us help you get the justice you deserve.