Nation’s Leading Cruise Ship Accident Lawyers
Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A., headquartered in Miami, FL, 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 — including our main Miami office — 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 4 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 headquartered in Miami, Florida 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.
- Why Choose Our Cruise Ship Accident Lawyers
- Suing The Major Cruise Lines
- Locations Served
- What Every Cruise Ship Passenger Needs To Know
- Examples of Maritime Accidents and Disasters
- Cruise Ships Registered In A Foreign Country
- What To Do After A Cruise Ship Accident
- How Can A Cruise Ship Attorney Help Maximize the Value of Your Claim?
- Cruise Ship Frequently Asked Questions
- Hiring The Nations Leading Cruise Ship Lawyers
Our Legal Team is Ready to Take on the Major Cruise Lines
Most of the major cruise lines are based in Miami, Florida , and as a result, they select Miami, Florida, as the location where lawsuits must be filed and litigated. This is the main reason our firm is headquartered in Miami. 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:
- Azamara Cruise Lines
- Carnival Cruise Lines
- Celebrity Cruises
- Costa Cruises
- Crystal Cruises
- Cunard Line
- Disney Cruise Line
- Holland America Line
- Mediterranean Shipping Cruises USA
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Oceania Cruises
- Princess Cruises
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises
- Royal Caribbean International
- Seabourn Cruise Line
- Silversea Cruises
- Island Queen Cruises
- Pullmantur Cruises
- P&O Cruises
- Virgin Voyages
- Windstar Cruises
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. We can help you from our Miami, Florida Headquarters, or one of our other 7 offices nationwide.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Cruise Ship Passenger Accidents
- Cruise Ship Rapes
- Seaman’s Claims
- Cruise Passenger Disappearances
- Cruise Ship Overboard Accidents
- Cruise Ship Drownings
- Shore Excursion Accidents
- Flowrider Accidents
- Cruise Ship Medical Malpractice
- Class Action Lawsuits
Consult with a cruise ship accident attorney after your injury to determine if you should move forward with a case. You can reach out to us at our Miami Headquarters, or one of our other 7 offices nationwide, 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 or are Currently Representing
As cruise ship accident 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. This is just a small sampling of the firm’s work, as we have handled over 3,000 cruise ship accident and injury cases and recovered well in excess of $300 million dollars on behalf of our clients.
3 Year Old Sexually Assaulted on a Disney Cruise Ship
Michael A. Winkleman is currently representing the Vermont-based family of a child who was sexually assaulted on board a Disney cruise ship by an older child, in an incident that the staff onboard did not do their due diligence to prevent. Despite the fact that a CCTV video of the despicable January 2020 incident was seen by the victim’s family, Disney simply says it does not exist. Despite this blatant attempt to silence the victim and avoid being held responsible, our attorneys won’t back down.
Our lawsuit is founded on the basis of clear wrongdoing. We’re not intimidated by large corporations like Disney. This case and many other similar ones on various ships are currently ongoing.
A Passenger Alleges She Got HIV After Being Raped By A Princess Crew Member
Our law firm is currently representing a woman who was raped by a crew member and contracted HIV while aboard a Princess Cruises ship in January 2022. Michael A. Winkleman is currently representing the woman in her lawsuit alleging she was raped by a cruise member while she was visibly intoxicated and the sexual assault resulted in her contracting the virus.
This isn’t the first time our lawyers have gone up against Princess Cruises after a passenger alleges she was raped by a crew member, and it certainly won’t be our last. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), sexual assault is consistently the most commonly reported crime aboard large cruise ships. This case is currently ongoing, and we are working diligently to get her the financial support and emotional care she needs in such a devastating time period.
Royal Caribbean Shore Excursion to White Island Volcano in New Zealand Results in Catastrophic Injuries and Deaths
For years, Royal Caribbean and its tour contractors sold excursions to White Island to see a live, active volcano until tragedy struck on December 9, 2019. The volcano violently erupted, spewing ash and hot gas onto tourists, including 38 vacationers from Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas. Nearly two dozen people suffered fatal injuries. Survivors sustained burns so severe that dozens of square meters of transplantable skin had to be flown in for grafting surgeries, according to court documents.
Victims and family members of those killed are now pursuing a string of lawsuits to hold Royal Caribbean liable in its home base of Miami, where the company operates a flagship cruise terminal and corporate offices. We have settled some of these cases and others are still ongoing.
Coronavirus Class Action Lawsuit for Hundreds Injured and Killed on the Costa Luminosa
The Costa Luminosa set sail from Ft. Lauderdale on March 5, 2020, despite the fact that Costa Cruise Lines knew that at least one of the vessel’s passengers from its previous voyage had shown symptoms of COVID-19. When passengers called and expressed hesitation about traveling on the cruise, Costa Cruise Lines misrepresented to them that the vessel was completely safe and that passengers would not be allowed to cancel their trip without forfeiting the money they had already paid.
The Italian Court has approved our Class Action in an order which you can see here.
This means that all of the passengers aboard this ill-fated cruise now have a right to join this class action and obtain compensation including reimbursement of the cost of the cruise as well as compensation based on unfair commercial practices and a ruined holiday.
Importantly, if any passenger wants to join the class action, they must do so by September 15, 2023.
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 unreasonable 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.
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?
At Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. our cruise ship lawyers work on a contingency basis for cruise ship personal injury cases. That means that we are compensated when the case settles or the court awards damages. Our attorneys do not charge a retainer, so there are no out-of-pocket costs for our clients. Simply put, this means if there is no recovery, there is no fee. We are only paid when we win for you. There is no charge for any consultation so contact us at our Miami Headquarters immediately so we can clearly and simply explain your rights.
Where do I file my case?
Most cruise ship passenger cases have to be filed in Miami, Florida, as set out in the passenger ticket contract. This enforceable contractual provision is called a forum selection clause and with all cases against Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL and most other cruise lines, the clause calls for all cases to be filed in Miami, Florida (our primary base of operations). Other cruise lines such as Princess Cruises call for all cases to be filed in California, and Holland America Cruises cases call for all cases to be filed in Washington State. That is why we have attorneys licensed in California and Washington on our team of 11 attorneys, so that we can handle any and all major cruise ship injury cases.
For a non cruise line injury case, most typically, the case has to be filed in the location of the incident or accident, unless there is a written agreement for the case to be filed elsewhere.
How long do I have to file a claim against a cruise ship?
With all cruise ship passenger cases, there is a strict one year time limit to file the case from the date of injury. There is also a 6 month notice provision which means the cruise line must have notice of the incident within 6 months of the incident. This is the main reason why it is so critical to immediately contact a maritime attorney after an incident.
With most other maritime related injury claims, there is a 3 year period of time to bring a case. This is known as a statute of limitation and it is a critical date to abide by otherwise the case can be thrown out of court.
Can I sue a cruise line if I’m the victim of a violent crime, rape, or sexual assault?
Absolutely. There is an alarming amount of crimes, rapes and sexual assaults aboard cruise ships. We are the leaders in the industry in holding the cruise line’s accountable when such preventable tragedies occur. If you have been the victim of such a crime, call us immediately, we can take the immediate steps you need to take in order to protect yourself and your rights.
If you were assaulted on a cruise ship, contact our cruise ship rape lawyers to discuss your case.
Can I sue a cruise line for refusing to accommodate special needs?
The 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Line, requires that all ships docking in U.S. ports comply with the ADA. However, some cases have been reported where cruise lines refuse to allow passengers to board due to their disability or kick them off after being injured due to low-standard facilities.
In 2013, 22-year-old Kevin Chenais was trying to get back to his home country of France from the U.S. was denied transportation on a cruise ship due to his weight. Chenais, who suffers from a hormonal imbalance that affects his weight, was undergoing treatment in the U.S. for his condition when he was met with unaccepting patrons in several modes of travel.
This isn’t the first time a cruise line has refused to help a special needs passenger. In 2011, a 66-year-old Celebrity Cruises passenger was forced to disembark the vessel after crew members couldn’t accommodate his needs. The issue stemmed from the fact that his room, which was labeled as handicapped accessible, did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act’s guidelines, which require toilets to be 19 inches high. According to the passenger, the toilet in his room was only 15 inches high and caused him to slip. The bathroom also lacked bars for him to hold onto.
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 at our Miami Headquarters 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.