Maritime law stipulates that cruise lines must protect those onboard their vessels against accidents and injuries. This includes making sure the vessel’s equipment is thoroughly inspected before a sailing to ensure there are no malfunctions, checking rooms and hallways on ships to make sure there are no loose carpets or furniture that might lead to a slip and fall, as well as monitoring crew members to ensure they are doing their jobs correctly.
Unfortunately, more accidents take place on the high seas than anyone can imagine, especially cruise ship accidents that result in fatalities. Cruise ships are like floating hotels, except there isn’t any immediate access to a police officer when something goes wrong. Most ships these days accommodate to over 2,000 passengers and crewmembers, advertising all the fun and adventure cruise goers can have aboard one of their ships. However, it is not uncommon for cruise lines to underreport the number of accidents and injuries taking place onboard or in port.
Whether because of crewmember negligence, unfavorable weather, criminal activity of other passengers, or a victim’s own medical conditions, accidents can and do happen onboard cruise lines very frequently.
While some victims are able to obtain help with the ship’s onboard doctor, there are other times in which someone’s injuries are too severe to be treated by the limited medical equipment and staff onboard a ship. When this happens, it is up to the cruise company to obtain medical help for the victim as quickly as possible, including calling emergency officials like the Coast Guard to have the victim flown to the nearest hospital or the vessel turning around if close enough to a port so the victim can obtain medical care there. This doesn’t always happen though.
Many times, victims do not get the medical help they deserve and their injuries become fatal. Other times, it isn’t the fact that the individual wasn’t given sufficient medical attention or that emergency teams weren’t called in, but the fact that the vessel was unsafe to begin with.
In the wake of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship fire accident, maritime authorities have questioned the safety onboard major cruise lines and whether or not operators abide by the proper laws regarding onboard safety. It seems next to impossible that in the 21st Century, a cruise line capable of creating ships as big as cities would not only miss a glitch in the ship’s equipment that led to a fuel leak, and the subsequent fire, but also failed to provide a failsafe following such an accident. There should always be a backup plan when things go wrong at sea, but for the Triumph, it appears as though there were no other options aside from drifting in the Gulf of Mexico without power, working toilets, food, or a sanitary environment in general.
It has been reported that one person was killed on the Carnival Triumph. Several deaths on other cruise ships, however, have taken place in the past.
Just yesterday, a 72-year-old man was found dead onboard the Queen Victoria yesterday. The ship had been visiting Darwin, Australia, and authorities are currently onboard the ship, which is docked at Darwin’s Stokes Hill Wharf, trying to find some answers.
As usual, the details of the man’s death have not been released, nor his identity.
Darwin was the site of another cruise ship death last month, when a dancer on Regent’s Seven Seas Voyager was found deceased in her cabin. Although some time has already passed since the victim, 24-year-old Jackie Kastrinelis died onboard the vessel, the public has yet to be told of an exact cause of death.
Kastrinelis allegedly hit her head during a rehearsal and was treated by the vessel’s medical staff, but was released. No one knows yet whether the head injury had something to do with her death or if something else was a factor. If it was in fact her head wound that ultimately led to her death, the ship’s medical staff may be found at least partially responsible for failing to provide sufficient treatment for her as well as failing to see to it that she received adequate medical care elsewhere.
While Kastrinelis’ death is not being treated as suspicious, it seems rather strange that a seemingly healthy young woman could die from one day to the next so unexpectedly.
There are several laws in place that are intended to maintain safety onboard cruise ships, including the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010, which requires cruise operators to report serious crime and missing persons to the FBI when a U.S. citizen is involved. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest organization dedicated to promoting safety onboard cruise lines, has released several regulations to improve and maintain cruise ship safety, including laws regarding lifeboat operations, the securing of heavy objects, access to lifejackets, and a measure that requires cruise ships to report all serious crime to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
Despite all the regulations that are currently in place, accidents – especially fatal ones – continue to occur. Hopefully one day, cruise ships will uphold the safety protocols that are currently in place or new, stricter ones will be established. Until then, anyone who has been hurt or lost a loved one while in the care of a cruise ship operator has the right to seek legal assistance with a cruise ship accident attorney to protect their rights and fight for the compensation they deserve.
Queen Victoria – ukcruise.org
Jackie Kastrinelis – dailytelegraph.com.au