News sources in Broward County are reporting that a female cruise passenger aboard a Carnival ship had to be evacuated from the vessel after suffering a serious injury. Though we don’t know much about the details of the incident, authorities are saying the woman, 52, broke both her legs when she fell in one of the ship’s elevators. She was transported to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, FL on Wednesday for the treatment of her injuries, where she was said to be in stable condition.
We hear the Coast Guard was notified right away regarding the passenger’s injuries, but how exactly could someone break both their legs by falling in an elevator? What are we not being told? Could there be some sort of negligence on Carnival’s part that contributed to the accident?
It’s not that often that a 52-year-old person can easily break both their legs. It must have been a serious slip and fall accident that caused her to require medical evacuation, so let’s review what we do know.
1) The woman was in a Carnival Cruise elevator. Carnival has made headlines numerous times regarding its lack of onboard safety protocols and features for passengers. There’s reason to suspect Carnival neglected to provide safe conditions in this situation as well.
2) According to reports, this was the second Carnival passenger to require evacuation on Wednesday. Another passenger onboard the Carnival Splendor had to be airlifted off the ship after becoming ill. Are we looking at a trend? Is Carnival just doomed to be at the forefront of maritime accident headlines? Will the company ever make the necessary upgrades to its safety features and sanitation requirements?
3) The cruise industry tends to conceal information regarding accidents, injuries and crimes to avoid the penalties and costs associated with a negligence case. The vast majority of cruise lines register their ships in foreign countries to take advantage of lax laws as well as for tax purposes. Could Carnival, knowing it has more leeway to avoid liability in the event of an accident purposefully neglect to improve its safety protocols? Did the cruise company conceal the information regarding the accident – if it was due to negligence on the line’s part – to avoid public scrutiny and accountability for the victim’s injuries?
There are several reasons as to how the victim may have fallen and broken her legs. It could have just been an accident on her part or it could have been the direct result of negligence on the cruise line’s part. Perhaps the carpeting in the elevator was old and torn, leading the victim to stumble and fall. Or, perhaps the elevator wasn’t working properly and at some point jolted the victim onto the floor. There are many possibilities as to what could have happened, and ways Carnival may have prevented it.
It is the cruise line’s responsibility to make sure their vessels are reasonably safe. The safety of those onboard should be a priority, yet several lines, including Carnival, continue to ignore this rule. Since 2012’s Costa Concordia capsizing accident in Italy, Carnival Corp., which is the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Princess, and several others, has been criticized for its above average maritime accident rate and for its continued lack of safety improvements. Every week, our cruise ship lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. notice there is some sort of incident involving a Carnival ship, whether it’s a Norovirus outbreak, a passenger injury, a ship’s mechanical malfunction, or even a crime like theft or sexual assault. When is Carnival going to make good on its promise to improve safety features on its ships? How many more passengers are going to get hurt before the multibillion-dollar corporation takes action to prevent the further harm of its guests?
Carnival – and other cruise lines – tends to spend much of its revenue on improving the “wow factor” of its ships. The industry as a whole is focused on making more money, so how do they do it? By enhancing their entertainment options.
Offering more restaurants, waterslides for kids, bigger and better rooms and amenities, and a slew of other features and shops that might make a traveler want to book a cruise vacation. Sure, we all love the fun features a cruise ship has to offer. After all, a large part of the appeal of cruising stems from its entertainment options. However, there comes a point when we have to ask ourselves: Is there enough entertainment? Can some of that money spent on entertainment venues be allocated to safety improvement? The answer is yes.
Cruising has always been fun, long before there were even television sets inside cabins, multiple dining options and shops within the ship itself. Cruising will always be fun because of the sheer nature of the vacation style. There’s plenty of stuff to do on even the smallest and less innovative of ships, so it’s high time the industry shifted its focus to passenger safety enhancement.
We can only hope Carnival and the industry as a whole gets the message and treats its guests safety as the main priority, instead of seeing passengers as dollar signs for the revenue the line can make off of them.
In the end, safety is good for business. Less injuries mean less dissatisfied passengers, less liability for the injuries, and it is the moral thing to do. The cruise lines, of course, do want their guests to be injured. They just have to look at the long term effects of poor safety rather than the immediate short term income stream. These have to be balanced. The cruise lines deserve to make a profit but the profit needs to be considered in light of the safety of their passengers.