By:   Charles R. Lipcon

Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. are the nation’s leading cruise ship injury and accident lawyers. We have been fighting for the rights of injured passengers and crew for over 50 years. We are dedicated to helping our clients recover the compensation they deserve after accidents at sea which are caused by someone else’s negligence.  With 14 attorneys in 8 offices nationwide, countless awards and accolades, and over $300 million and counting recovered for our clients since we first began the firm in 1971, it is no surprise that Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. has been named to “Best Law Firms”® by US News & World Report since 2016, and 3 of our attorneys named to “Best Lawyers”®. 

Whether you’re a passenger on a cruise ship or a member of the crew, pursuing a claim for an onboard injury may feel daunting, but we are here to help. We have an unparalleled success rate and we are confident in our ability to help you or your family to obtain a successful outcome.

Our attorneys are common fixtures on a number of national news and talk shows as expert guests for maritime matters, and our founder, Charles Lipcon, has successfully handled a number of landmark cases that have shaped the way our country handles maritime law.

Read more below to get a better idea of why a maritime lawyer is such an important asset after an accident, and how we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us as soon as possible to request a free consultation so we can put our experience to work for you.

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Why Choose Our Cruise Ship Accident Lawyers?

At Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A., we are dedicated to helping all those who have been injured on a cruise ship recover the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering. Our firm is AV-rated, meaning our lawyers maintain the highest level of ethics in all we do and we work diligently to make sure your rights are fully protected. Our firm has recovered more than $300 million dollars for our clients many of which were cruise ship passengers. Our proven performance record and long history of dedication to protecting the rights of individuals injured on cruise ships is one of the biggest factors that differentiates Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. from other law firms, but these accomplishments would not be possible without a staff of maritime lawyers that possess the skill, experience, and determination needed to effectively litigate each claim our law firm accepts.

In fact, our clients appreciate the confidence that comes with knowing that all of our attorneys are experienced and familiar with the laws and regulations that will affect their case. The level of knowledge and expertise our cruise ship lawyers possess is further demonstrated by that fact that our attorneys are regularly featured in the media for their superior knowledge of maritime law, and as most accident victims know, having an experienced lawyer on your case is an essential element to ensuring that your case reaches a resolution that benefits you, the victim.

Our Legal Team is Ready to Take on the Major Cruise Lines

Most of the major cruise lines are based in Miami, Florida (as is our headquarters), and as a result, they select Miami, Florida, as the location where lawsuits must be filed and litigated. There are other cruise lines that require cases to be filed in California or Washington state, which is why we also have attorneys licensed in California and Washington. In almost every case where passengers have been unaware of the forum selection clause or have otherwise chosen to ignore it and filed a lawsuit in another jurisdiction, the lawsuit has been dismissed leaving the passenger with no means of recovery against the company. These unfortunate cases demonstrate why hiring experienced maritime accident lawyers who have both the legal skills and resources needed to successfully initiate and litigate claims against major cruise lines is so important. Some of the companies our cruise ship accident lawyers will handle claims against include:

This list is not all-inclusive, but rather, it comprises some of the largest cruise lines our attorneys routinely sue. However, our cruise ship attorneys also have experience with litigating claims against third-party vendors that often contract with major cruise lines such as Starboard Cruise Services, which is a third party retail company that often contracts with many of the major cruise lines to provide onboard retail services. So, regardless of how you were injured or who is responsible, you should always contact the maritime accident lawyers at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. to have your claim evaluated by an experienced attorney for cruise ship accidents who can help you understand your legal options.

Locations We Serve

The team at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. has offices across the country strategically located in order to be able to handle all maritime and cruise ships cases across the United States.  Given the unique nature of maritime law, we are also able to handle many cases internationally and have successfully resolved countless cases all across the globe.  Simply put, we can offer unrivaled advocacy to cruise passengers and crew injured worldwide. 

Our firm’s headquarters are located in Miami, Florida, and have been since 1971.  This location was chosen because it is often referred to as the cruise ship capital of the world.  Our other locations were chosen because they are also significant port cities and locations where many cruise ships cases are required to be filed per the terms of the cruise passenger ticket contract.  

It is important to work with an attorney who is experienced in maritime law if you have been involved in a cruise ship accident because maritime and admiralty laws are highly specific. 

When you hire Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A., you can be confident knowing that you are working with a law firm that boasts three “Best Lawyers” ® including our founder, attorney Charles R. Lipcon, named “Lawyer of the Year” ® in Admiralty & Maritime for 2020 by US News & World Report.

Some of the locations where we most commonly file our cases and represent clients include the following:

Keep in mind that due to the complex and often international specifics of admiralty and maritime law, your case may or may not be litigated in any of these locations, however when you consult with us, we will be happy to provide specifics in regards to your case.  

Cruise Ship Accidents What to Do

What Every Cruise Ship Passenger Needs To Know

The average person about to embark on a dream cruise ship vacation never thinks about the things that can go wrong. Fortunately, in the vast majority of cruises things go right which is why cruise ship vacations are growing at a phenomenal pace. For the cases when something goes awry, it is important to note these tips from an experienced cruise injury lawyer, in case something unexpected occurs at sea.

The ticket

You will receive a multi-page ticket with extremely small print that virtually no one ever reads. Read it. Some very important rights are affected by this ticket. If you become sick or injured due to the fault of the shipping company a lawsuit must be filed within one year or you are out of luck. Many people, including many lawyers, miss this provision in the ticket. After one year, you are out of luck. There are a few exceptions which only apply in rare instances.

Applicable law

On the cruise ship, don’t think that you are in the United States. Look at the flag of the vessel. If it is Bahamian, you are in the Bahamas. If it is Panamanian you are in Panama. There are certain exceptions to this, but not many.

Medical care

Just because the doctor wears a nice uniform and works in the ship’s hospital, don’t assume he really knows what he is doing. If you have a medical condition research the standards of the shipping company that you are sailing with. Some are better than others. If you have a heart condition, you don’t want to be on a ship that uses psychiatrists, as an example, as a ships doctor.

Crimes

These occur on ships just like anywhere else. Be aware that the same crimes that occur on land can occur on a ship. Be tuned into this so that you do not become a victim. The same goes for your children. Make sure that they are never alone and under supervision. Sexual assaults against children occur even at a young age. Both boys and girls. Don’t just open your cabin door without knowing who is there. Don’t leave your cabin unlocked. Don’t take your safety for granted.

If something does go wrong, do not think the shipping company is motivated solely to help you

In our experience, anytime there is an accident or crime onboard a cruise ship, the first instinct of the company/defendant  is to protect themselves.  They will gather evidence to use against you, including putting an accident statement form in front of you that phrases the questions in a way to try to get you to answer in a way that hurts any case against them.  .   You can protect yourself by taking photographs of the incident area, and getting the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any  witnesses.  Your very next move should be to contact an experienced maritime attorney to advise you on the proper steps to take.  

Where to file suit

The cruise line ticket can specify where suit has to be filed. Most of the large cruise lines specify Miami, Dade County, Florida. If suit is filed in the wrong location and one year has gone by, you could be thrown out of court and it will be too late to file in the correct location.

These are just a few matters to keep in the back of your mind. Hopefully, you will not have to worry about any of these things. However, it is better to be aware of your rights than to stick your head in the sand.

Bon Voyage.

Common Cruise Accident & Injury Types

Maritime law is a very specialized area of legal practice, and at times, it can be confusing, even to cruise ship lawyers who are moderately familiar with maritime law in general, and while there are things you can do as an aware and alert passenger to avoid an injury while you are vacationing on a cruise ship, accidents can and do happen with a high degree of regularity. 

Some of the most common events that occur on cruise lines that our firm is highly skilled in representing include:

Consult with a cruise ship accident attorney after your injury to determine if you should move forward with a case. You can reach our law firm by calling the toll-free number: 877-233-1238. We can also be reached from overseas and offer all clients a free case evaluation.

Notable Maritime Accidents or Disasters We Have Represented

As maritime lawyers, our firm has seen a number of tragic accidents and crimes befall the cruise industry over the years. Though some of these incidents have been highly publicized, others have been swept under the ocean floor, never to be heard from again. We thought it would be helpful to take a look at some of these maritime disasters and what happened to the victims onboard.

Carnival Triumph Fire

Though no one was killed in the 2013 fire aboard the Carnival Triumph, over 3,500 people were left stranded in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico with barely anything to eat and forced to endure awful sanitary conditions.

This event was highly publicized as the powerless ship was dragged across the Gulf of Mexico.  We successfully represented hundreds of Carnival passengers in their claims against Carnival.  

SS EL Faro Disaster

On October 1, 2015, the cargo ship El Faro sank during Hurricane Joaquin near the Bahamas. The vessel had departed from Jacksonville, Florida bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico carrying a crew of 33 people and a cargo of 391 containers. All 33 people on board were killed in the disaster when the vessel took on water and started to experience propulsion issues while directly in the eyewall of the hurricane.  We were honored to have successfully represented the families of a significant number of the crewmembers who died on that ill fated voyage.  

In the aftermath of the disaster, it became clear that the 33 crew members were not provided sufficient protection from the perils of the storm by their employer, US-based Tote Maritime, and were placed directly in harm’s way by the ship’s captain, Michael Davidson. It was later determined that Davidson’s decision to depart from Jacksonville was reasonable given the number of options available to avoid the storm, but the captain ignored these options and instead placed the vessel directly in the path of the hurricane.

What Should I Do After Being Involved in a Cruise Ship Accident?

  • Make sure you file and obtain a copy of an accident report or a report of a crime
  • Document your accident as much as possible including taking pictures of the accident scene, obtaining the contact information of any witnesses, and recording the names of any of the crew members to whom you report the accident.
  • Seek medical attention immediately with the medical staff on the ship.
  • Contact a cruise ship passenger injury lawyer as soon as possible.

If you have been injured in a cruise ship accident, it’s important to speak to a cruise accident lawyer immediately. We will take the time to give your case the personal attention it deserves, and advise you relating to the rights that you have under the law, and regarding the statute of limitations-how much time you have to file suit after an accident—as it pertains to your particular case.

attorney for Cruise Ship Accidents

Cruise Ships Registered in a Foreign Country

Almost every cruise line vessel is registered in a foreign country and flies a foreign flag. Due to this, the law of the country of registration of the vessel could potentially apply to events that occur on the cruise ship, but the laws of some foreign countries could be less favorable to the plaintiff than the laws in the United States in most cases. Consequently, this aspect of certain cruise ship accident claims can create unique opportunities that experienced admiralty attorneys can use to gain a legal advantage.

For example, an accident that occurs on a ship that begins its voyage in Miami could fall under the jurisdiction of Florida state law, federal law, or the law of the country the vessel is registered with, and international treaties that apply to events and occurrences that happen aboard the ship can add an additional level of legal complexity. To an inexperienced attorney, the overlap and interplay between these different areas of law might seem like an obstacle, but our at-sea injury attorneys view these cases as an opportunity to evaluate which body of law would be both applicable to your unique situation and most favorable to your legal position.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations For Cruise Ship Accidents

Cruise ship accidents and claims involve unique aspects of maritime law that apply only to cruise ships, which is why these types of cases are sometimes referred to as falling under cruise ship law. While much of the general maritime law applies to cruise ship injury cases, there are special circumstances that apply just to events that occur on cruise ships.For example, cruise lines always insert special provisions into their passenger ticket contracts, which is generally a permitted practice under federal law, that shorten the length of time in which a passenger may file a lawsuit against the cruise line to one year, whereas the normal statute of limitations for admiralty and maritime matters is three years. 

If you have missed your deadline, however, all is not necessarily lost — depending on the circumstances, you may be able to show that the contract-based limitations period was unreasonable and unenforceable, or that you qualify for an exemption. This is one of the many reasons why working with an award-winning maritime attorney is essential for getting the compensation you deserve.

There are exceptions to these unique rules. For example, in Boehnen v. Carnival Cruise Lines Inc.778 So.2d 1084 (2001), Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals ruled that the shortened statute of limitations imposed on a passenger by way of the contract on a passenger’s ticket did not apply to mentally incompetent passengers that did not have a legal guardian appointed pursuant to 46 U.S.C.§ 183b(c). The various court decisions and laws that create exceptions to certain rules demonstrate why hiring an experienced cruise ship accident lawyer is one of the most important decisions you can make if you are harmed or injured on a cruise ship.

The Forum Selection Clauses On Your Cruise Ticket

Cruise lines always designate, within their passenger tickets, the only location where they can be sued. This is referred to as a forum selection clause. This can lead to all sorts of additional confusion, and — just as the cruise line legal teams designed this clause — can easily dissuade a victim from following up on legal action. When you are working with our team of award-winning attorneys, you can be certain that we will be able to represent you in a wide range of locations, both nationally and internationally, as the preeminent maritime attorneys in the United States.  Most cruise passenger tickets require cases to be filed in Miami, Florida.  Some require cases to be filed in California or Washington.  Fortunately, our firm has lawyers licensed in all of these locations precisely to be able to file lawsuits against any cruise line, nationwide.  

How Can a Cruise Ship Injury Lawyer Maximize the Value of My Claim?

Achieving a favorable recovery for a maritime personal injury or fatality case requires lawyers that have specific knowledge of the laws that govern maritime matters. These types of cases can be difficult due to the advantages companies in the cruise ship industry have including:

  • Non-disclosure policies that attempt to prevent them from releasing the names of those who are hurt, go missing, or who sustain fatal injuries.
  • The commonly used arguments that courts in the United States have no jurisdiction over what transpires over international waters.
  • The lack of responsibility cruise lines commonly assert when dealing with injured crew members and passengers in order to give accident victims the impression that their claim is not valid.

Our maritime lawyers understand the numerous legal tactics cruise lines typically use and have a proven track record of overcoming these obstacles in order to ensure that accident victims are the ones that benefit from the legal framework of the domestic or foreign legal jurisdiction a particular claim falls under.

Frequently Asked Questions

With over 150 years of combined experience litigating maritime and admiralty law cases, the cruise ship accident attorneys of Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. recognize the anxiety that an injury victim experiences when moving through the legal process. The following are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions that we hear from clients.

How are cruise ship lawyers compensated?

Where do I file my case?

How long do I have to file a claim against a cruise ship?

Can I sue a cruise line if I’m the victim of a violent crime, rape, or sexual assault?

Can I sue a cruise line for refusing to accommodate special needs?

Hire The Nation’s Leading Cruise Ship Accident & Injury Lawyers

Beyond our knowledge and extensive experience with cases involving injuries at sea, we prepare and try our own cases, so you can rest assured your individual case will not be referred out to another law firm. Our cruise ship accident lawyers also take the time to carefully and extensively review the details of your particular incident to give your case the personal attention it deserves. 

When working with a cruise ship injury lawyer from our firm, you know that you will always have an ethical legal professional at your side who will tirelessly strive to keep you well informed regarding the status of your case. Moreover, our attorneys are dedicated to always making themselves available to offer you advice and support throughout the entire duration of your case.

Contact our firm as soon as possible to learn more about the benefits of working with our award-winning team. With over $300 million recovered for our clients, hundreds of national television spots as expert guests, and a number of landmark cases that we have successfully represented, it’s no wonder our firm has been named to “Best Law Firms”® by US News & World Report since 2016, and 3 of our attorneys have been named to “Best Lawyers”® in America.

*Disclaimer required by the Florida Bar: The numbers above are the gross recoveries, before deduction for attorneys’ fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.