Maritime Matter of the Week

What to do After An Injury, Accident, or Assault At Sea


Written by
Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. is comprised of attorneys that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of lawyers has over a century of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients.

While everyone hopes that bad things never happen to them on a cruise vacation—accidents can and do happen. In the event that things do go wrong, it’s important to be prepared and calm in an emergency on the high seas. Cruise lines offer passengers general safety information before leaving port. However, cruise lines omit crucial information from their safety debriefing. These omissions and what you should know before you go on a cruise are discussed in this blog.

In an emergency situation, it is often difficult to stay calm. Familiarizing yourself with these tips before leaving port is one of the most important aspects in your preparation for setting sail:

1. Photograph the scene as soon as possible. In the age of cell phone cameras, there isn’t a reason not to. Things that may not seem important at the time can be very important later, and with photographs you’ll have an image of the site of your accident, injury, or crime scene.

2. Notify the authorities. It is common sense to notify the proper authorities if you are faced with a situation, whether that be the ship’s medical team, law enforcement, on-board security, or another agency that deals with your specific trouble. Not everyone asks for a copy of the report that the authorities create. It’s important to do this for a variety of reasons. Once you have an incident report in your hands, it’s unlikely the cruise line will attempt to change it or create another document relating to the event that may not be accurate. If they do, you have the original statement. In addition, people remember events with less and less specificity over time. Having an official record will be important later.
3. Get contact information for all witnesses to the event, if any.

4. If it’s a medical emergency, get the treatment you need. If you feel it is necessary to insist on medical treatment on land, then inform the doctor treating you and other crew if your request is denied.

5. Once you are stable, it’s important to contact a maritime lawyer. As cruise accident lawyers, our firm has represented clients in a wide variety of situations, from accidents and injuries to crimes of violence or sexual assault. Our firm has the experience and expertise to evaluate the situation and ask the right questions. As I said earlier, people remember fewer details as time passes. We also may need to advise you on any applicable statute of limitations in relation to your claim. For example, in many instances you have just six months to file a notice of intent to initiate litigation. Even if you think you do not have a claim, it’s important to allow one of our attorneys to evaluate the facts of your case. You may not, in fact, have a claim. However, maritime law is complex and does provide a number of legal rights to individuals who are hurt at sea. Because our firm has tried or settled cases dealing with such diverse issues, we are well equipped to help you with aggressive representation.

If you found this blog helpful and informative, you’ll also want to check out my book, Unsafe on the High Seas. It’s full of knowledge and information you’ll want to know before you board the ship, and is available electronically as an e-book, and in paperback.

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