If you, a family member, or a friend has been injured while on a passenger cruise ship, beware of the fine print. Pursuing a claim against a cruise line is very complex. One must read the fine print on the passenger ticket.

Despite general maritime statute limitations, cruise lines are permitted to further restrict the statute of limitations to one year and the requirement of a Notice of Claim to six months, as long as such is fully detailed in the passenger ticket. Cruise lines can also restrict where you are allowed to file a lawsuit against a cruise line, which is typically limited to State and Federal courts in the port of Miami, Florida. These are known as “forum selection clauses.” This limitation further restricts injured passengers from bringing claims, as most passengers are from other states or countries.

Typical shipboard accidents include slip and fall, trip and fall, as well as injuries sustained while involved in onboard and excursion activities. Recently, there have been a significant number of cases for food-borne illnesses, fires, and assault by crew members or fellow passengers.

It doesn’t matter where you bought the ticket, where the cruise line advertises, or where you boarded the ship in terms of the forum selection. The United States Supreme Court upheld one of these forum selection clauses requiring that a suit against a cruise line be brought in Miami, despite the passenger embarking in Los Angeles and sustaining an injury off the coast of Mexico. If you are injured while on a cruise and suit is necessary, you may likely be required to return to Miami for court hearings, depositions, and trial. Passenger cruise ship claims are complex, expensive, and may only be justified in serious injury cases.

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