For many, a cruise vacation is considered one that the whole family can enjoy. With so many cruise lines offering up family discounts and touting onboard entertainment that will occupy the youngest and the oldest of your clan, it makes sense that these vacations are continuing to grow in popularity.
Unfortunately, what the cruise lines do not often disclose is that falls between decks of the cruise ship are far more common than anyone would like. The reality of the situation is that the cruise lines likely only even began to report these tragic incidents due to recent changes in federal law that require such reporting. Not surprisingly, the cruise lines prefer not to publicize these incidents, due to the negative impact they have on revenue and public image. However, when an accident makes headlines, it becomes impossible for the cruise line to ignore the fact that they could find themselves at fault for an unnecessary loss of life. Sadly, doing what we do on a daily basis, we’ve personally handled roughly half a dozen overboard and interior fall cases just in the past few years alone. This begs the question, what is going at sea that is causing the repeated loss of life, both young and old…?
Child Falls to Death in PortMiami
On October 13, 2017, an 8-year-old girl fell to her death aboard the Carnival Glory. According to reports, the ship had just returned to the Port of Miami after a week-long voyage. Passengers were in the process of disembarking when the girl fell roughly two stories–from a deck to the inner atrium of the ship below.
The girl was immediately taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, where she died of her injuries. We send our deepest condolences to the family of the deceased, as they navigate this emotionally traumatizing experience. God bless her and her family.
In the wake of this death, we are left wondering what could have led to the fall? Early reports have stated that due to overcrowding the child may have been forced over, or through, the railings. We are intimately familiar with this exact type of injury. The cruising public must understand that this tragedy happened on an embarkation / disembarkation day, also known as a turnaround day. This is when one cruise ends and another begins, all in the same day, within a matter of hours. It is by far the most chaotic day on the ship and all of the crewmembers are so busy ending one cruise and beginning another that safety takes a backseat to other job responsibilities. Consequently, we have handled dozens of serious injuries that happen when the thousands of passengers are getting on, or off, the ship.
Furthermore, it is not uncommon for small children, usually toddlers, to fit between the railings on a cruise ship and drop to a deck below. In August of 2017, a 3-year-old girl fell from the balcony of a Carnival cruise ship. As such, while much of the public simply asks: where were the parents? We ask the tougher questions: what was the cruise line doing to make sure this child was safe? Why do these types of incidents continue to occur at such an alarming frequency?
Since the ship was docked at a US port, the Death on the High Seas Act will not apply. Instead, the Florida Wrongful Death Act will apply. It is imperative that anyone harmed by a cruise line’s negligence immediately speak to an experienced maritime attorney who has experience handling injury and death cases while ships are at sea or at port, because the applicable laws can be confusing. We have handled around 3 similar cases in the past, which are not really overboard cases, rather they are known as interior falls.
LMAW: Advocates for the Safety of Children at Sea
At Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we are responsible for getting some of the cruise lines to place lifeguards on their ships. We fight hard to make cruise ships safer for children, adults and workers alike. We would love to see the cruise lines tighten the balcony railings so that children cannot fall in between them. There are so many things the cruise lines could do to be safer. While we have handled several high profile overboard cases, we have also handled interior fall cases such as this one. Our team of attorneys knows how challenging it can be to face your legal burden on your own, while also processing the devastating loss of a loved one. As a result, you can rest assured that we will stay by your side, until you get the resolution you deserve. Although no amount of money can ever bring back your loved one, it is important to let cruise lines know that they cannot get away with unsafe practices that put guests in danger of losing their lives.
So if you are seeking a trusted team with over 165 years of combined experience, then look no further than LMAW, PA. When you are ready, a maritime attorney on our team is here to help. So do not hesitate to contact us today.