Common Cruise ship injury claims are a totally separate type of claim and very different and distinct from typical personal injury cases. The defendant is going to be a cruise line and there are limitations on these cases that are contained within the documents that you receive when you make your contract with the cruise line. Depending on the kind of limitations, these are strictly construed by our courts. One of those limitations is that many of the cruise lines operate out of Florida, even if it is a ship that starts off elsewhere, and they require that the claim be brought not only in that specific state, but in a particular county.
Other conditions and restrictions within the cruise document provide restrictions on providing the cruise line with notice of the cruise ship injury claim and the how the claim will be handled, including its conclusion. If the injury is at high sea, it is a wholly different beast that requires special handling, as there may be a foreign jurisdiction that is required.
We typically work with Florida counsel in jointly handling the case. We have access to the client locally and the Florida attorney would be working with us while we gather the necessary information and provide it to Florida counsel. They file and handle the lawsuit there. More often than not, we are able to have a local attorney handle the local proceedings, just as we do with out of state attorneys and clients who need to have a case filed in California.
Since the actual injury might happen out at sea or the client may have an initial treatment outside the United States, we have to contact the healthcare facility in a foreign country to get records for that patient. Many times, it involves translation and complex negotiations just to get records and bills, and to document what the injury is. It’s not uncommon that injured parties on a ship first have treatment with the ship doctor or nurse, so getting those records and determining their legitimacy can be something that we have to tackle. The healthcare provider treatment that we have seen shipside has often grossly understated the nature of the injury to downplay what the ship’s involvement is and what the injury is. These are unique cases that require a lot of special handling.