Medevac incidents are not uncommon in the cruise ship industry — modern cruise-liners can play host to hundreds of thousands of passengers at any given time, and as such, there is a distinct possibility that one or more passengers could experience a medical emergency requiring an evacuation to an appropriate shoreside medical facility for further medical care.
Just yesterday, on June 7, 2018, there was a sudden medical emergency on-board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Majesty of the Sea, eight miles south of Tampa Bay.
According to reports, a 39 year-old passenger, Mr. Rushan Pain, began to experience chest pains that indicated a possible heart attack. Crew aboard the ship quickly determined that the passenger was in need of advanced medical attention, and at 4:39PM, US Coast Guard watchstanders received a call from the vessel requesting a medical evacuation.
US Coast Guard watchstanders launched a rescue boat, which arrived at Majesty of the Sea roughly 43 minutes later, at 5:22PM, to transport Mr. Pain ashore, and then to Bayfront Medical Center for the emergency medical care he required.
At this time, there is no further information regarding the condition of Mr. Pain.
Though it is not yet clear whether the passenger actually suffered a heart attack, we are pleased to hear that the crew acted in an abundance of caution in its response to Mr. Pain’s medical emergency. Crew on-board the ship correctly noted that — if Mr. Pain were having a heart attack — time was of the essence, and that ship facilities would not be sufficient to treat the passenger. The relevant authorities were contacted — here, the US Coast Guard watchstanders — and the medical evacuation was swift and effectively coordinated.
Unfortunately this is not always the case. Often times we see that once a medical emergency arises, cruise lines place profits before the safety and well-being of an ill or injured guest. A decision to divert the vessel so that a passenger can obtain urgent medical care can disrupt the vessel’s scheduled itinerary and impacts the bottom line. Other times, the medical staff may not to recognize the seriousness of a situation and fail to call for an emergency evacuation all together. Delays in treatment caused by the crew’s failure to recognize and timely call for an evacuation can have serious consequences (perhaps even fatal), which might give rise to a claim against the cruise line.
Cruise Ship Emergency Response Must Be Smoothly Coordinated and Executed
Cruise lines must ensure that they have properly trained their crews to respond to a sudden medical emergency and effectively coordinate a medevac. Though most large cruise ships have on-board infirmaries, these facilities may not have the personnel and equipment necessary to treat severe medical events (such as a cardiac arrest). As such, it is the crew’s responsibility to identify when a medical emergency demands further intervention, and to contact the relevant authorities. If and when the crew fails to adequately perform these duties, the injured passenger may be entitled to sue the cruise line for the injuries as a result of the delay in treatment.
Passengers must take ownership of the situation to ensure that they or their loved ones receive the care they need. If you experience a serious medical event on-board a cruise ship, it’s important that you push for the care that you believe is truly necessary. Cruise lines make the final decision as to whether to request a medevac and must be held accountable when their failure to do so creates a worse situation.
In a medevac incident, the care of the passenger is passed between many different parties, and as such, smooth coordination of the evacuation process is critical— particularly given the fragility of the passenger during a medical event, such as a heart attack. In the present case, had the crew waited too long to contact US Coast Guard watchstanders, then Mr. Pain’s condition may have worsened.
Our Maritime Lawyers Can Assist You
Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our team of attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience representing clients in a range of accident claims, including cruise ship injuries suffered during (or after) a serious medical emergency. We have committed a significant portion of our practice to maritime and admiralty litigation and are therefore well-positioned to navigate the challenges associated with bringing an action against the cruise line. Though we are located in Florida, our attorneys have appeared in courtrooms worldwide, and have successfully litigated claims governed by federal or foreign law.
If you have suffered injuries in a medical emergency on-board the ship, then you may have an actionable claim against the cruise line for failing to respond to the emergency in a reasonable manner. We encourage you to get in touch with one of our offices — our maritime lawyers will tease apart the complicated aspects of your claim and provide further guidance on how to proceed with litigation.
Claims are best evaluated as early as possible. If you believe that you have an actionable claim, do not hesitate to contact us today.