Cruise Passenger Requires Emergency Evacuation but Coast Guard Experiences Mechanical Trouble

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Can the Line Still be Sued Even Though it Didn’t Contribute to the Illness?

 

Coast Guard helicopterAnother day, another cruise ship passenger rescue. Authorities have reported an incident involving a sick cruise passenger that required two Irish Coast Guard teams to come to her aid. During the first dispatch, a rescue a new helicopter, the S92 Sikorsky, was sent to the cruise ship but encountered what is being called a “technical problem” and a second team had to be sent out.

The victim in question has not been identified, aside from being reported to be an elderly woman from the United States. Hopefully she was able to obtain the treatment she needed, despite the mechanical mishaps experienced by the Coast Guard.

Usually, it’s the cruise lines that are in need of work to prevent mechanical errors, but this time, the Coast Guard may have contributed to the woman’s illness getting worse. Yet, while this doesn’t appear to be an injury or illness derived from anyone’s actions onboard the cruise line, the fact cruise lines are responsible for a great majority of illnesses and injuries onboard their vessels cannot be ignored.

As the cruise industry continues to get rocked by news of mechanical mishaps leading to fires, mysterious passenger disappearances and cruise ship sexual assaults, several fingers get pointed at the liners for failing to provide a safe environment for those onboard. Because each cruise company is responsible for maintaining safety standards that are on par with international maritime regulations and laws, when accidents do occur by fault of the cruise line’s negligence or wrongdoing, the company may be found liable – at least in part – and may be ordered to pay damages to those who are injured or the surviving family of anyone who is killed.

But what happens when a passenger suffers a medical emergency that was not the result of any wrongdoing on the cruise line’s part? Can victims still be able to file a complaint against the cruise line for damages? The answer is yes, but only if the illness resulted from some form of safety violation.

For example, if a passenger experiences a medical emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke, cruise lines are obviously not the cause of such a terrible incident. However, they are required by maritime law to act as quickly as possible to get the sick passenger treatment. Many cruise ships have doctors onboard who are trained to handle more minor injuries and illnesses, but when a passenger needs serious medical attention, lines must notify the Coast Guard and arrange for the victim to be transported off the vessel immediately and to the nearest medical facility capable of offering the care needed by the victim.

It is also important to note that crew members should also be treated in the same manner as passengers when a medical emergency is suffered. Crews should be transported off a ship and to the nearest hospital and if lines fail to do so, the crew member in question or their surviving family may be eligible to file a claim against the liner for negligence.

Time is of the essence when anyone onboard a cruise ship becomes gravely ill, and just a 5 minute delay on the cruise company’s part to contact emergency authorities may cost the victim their life.

Unfortunately, there have been many times when a cruise line failed to respond hastily to a passenger emergency, causing them to become even more ill and in some cases, caused them to lose their lives. Yet, even in the face of a victim dying as a result of the cruise line failing to provide for their care, liners STILL try to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

Just last month, our cruise attorneys wrote about a disturbing incident in which former cruise captain Tore Myhra became ill with Legionella while on a cruise vacation with his wife and daughter in 2009. Although extremely ill, the cruise line in question, Royal Caribbean, did not arrange for Myhra to be transported off the vessel, and as a result, he grew increasingly ill and died in hospital care the same day the vessel returned to shore.

Had he obtained medical treatment sooner, perhaps Myhra would be alive today. Yet, Royal continues to fight in present day with Myhra’s widow, refusing to compensate her for her husband’s death. This has unfortunately become a common reaction among cruise lines when an illness or injury is suffered onboard. Because they can be held liable for the victim’s medical bills, further medical complications or even their death, lines try to avoid accepting blame so as not to lose revenue.

It’s important for all victims to know they can turn to a cruise ship lawyer for help when an illness or injury is suffered, especially if it’s the result of a crew member’s wrongful actions.