On August 4, 2018, a 35-year old man — a cruise ship passenger traveling aboard Silver Explorer, a luxury vessel operated by Silversea Cruises — was medevaced by a Coast Guard helicopter crew to emergency medical services personnel waiting ashore in Kotzebue, Alaska, roughly 150 miles away. According to reports, the passenger (currently unnamed) was suffering cardiac problems when the appropriate authorities on Silver Explorer contacted Coast Guard watch standers and explained the immediate need for a medevac.
The cruise ship passenger in question was successfully hoisted and transported to Kotzebue, where he is receiving higher-level medical care.
Though at this time, there is no additional information relating to the passenger’s condition, we are pleased that the emergency response was swift and effectively coordinated. When Silversea Explorer crew contacted Coast Guard watch standers for help, the vessel was located 150 miles northwest of Kotzebue. Poor weather conditions — cloudiness, 20mph winds, and 7-foot waves — necessitated further coordination between the vessel and the Coast Guard medevac team. Coast Guard watch standers not only had the flight surgeon speak to the cruise ship physician to determine whether the passenger’s condition required a medevac (which it ultimately did), but also requested that the Silver Explorer reroute to a closer location so that the helicopter crew could travel to the vessel and conduct the medevac.
Given the serious nature of cardiac arrest, and the lack of treatment options aboard the vessel, a swift response was necessary in order to minimize the risk of a serious injury or even a fatality. If the Silver Explorer’s crew had waited too long to contact Coast Guard watch standers for a medevac, it is possible that the condition of the passenger in question could have exacerbated and substantial damages been suffered be him. Under such circumstances, the passenger and their loved ones would likely have an actionable claim against the cruise line for negligence.
Quick and Effective Coordination Between Parties is Critical for Ensuring Passenger Safety
Cruise lines view medical provisions as an undesirable cost. This unwillingness to equip the vessel more comprehensively often leads to the need to medevac in circumstances that might have otherwise been resolved with on-board had the necessary medical resources been available. For example, if the cruise ship is “missing” critical medical supplies, thus leading to a delay in providing adequate care or the need for a medevac and consequently the passenger’s condition is exacerbated, the passenger (or their surviving family members) might be entitled to bring an action against the cruise line for damages.
Cruise lines are not absolute guarantors of safety, but when a higher-level medical emergency occurs aboard one of their vessels, the response must be appropriate to the severity of the condition at-issue. Once crew members aboard the vessel have determined that the emergency requires a medevac, authorities must be contacted immediately. Delaying can lead to injuries, or even death. In the present case, reports indicate that crew members notified Coast Guard watch standers soon after the passenger’s ailing condition was made known to the vessel’s medical staff. This early contact enabled Coast Guard medical authorities to speak to the ship physician and — in a collaborative manner — determine how best to proceed.
We Can Assist You
If you have suffered an injury aboard a cruise ship and your condition was exacerbated by a delay in you treatment or the decision to medevac you or the medevac response, then you may have a legitimate claim against the cruise line for damages. Litigating such claims can be quite challenging. However, we encourage you to contact us. Our qualified attorney have a track record of successfully handling maritime and admiralty claims, including those involving delayed care, and medevac situations.
Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our maritime lawyers boast over 100 years of combined experience representing the interests of cruise ship passengers who have suffered injuries in various accidents while at-sea, including medical emergency scenarios requiring a medevac to shore. We are committed to the provision of client-centered, comprehensive legal advocacy, and to that end, we communicate openly and transparently throughout the litigation process. This personalized approach to litigation has garnered us numerous successes in the form of favorable verdicts and settlements.
Though we operate our office out of Florida, we have extensive experience handling lawsuits in courtrooms nationwide (and globally). Whether you are injured in a medevac scenario off the coast of Alaska, or Florida, the law may entitle you to damages for the negligent acts of the cruise line and their crew member employees.
Interested in learning more about your claims? Contact us today for further assistance. We will evaluate your claims and help you develop a strategic plan for moving forward with the litigation process.