I have worked with numerous families that were dealing with the aftermath of a cruise ship injury. And while the cases and clients were all different, many of the questions the families had were the same. If you have any further questions, contact Attorney Geoffrey Probst today by calling 844-403-2107.
If you have been injured on a cruise ship, it is important to immediately seek medical attention and then quickly report the accident. Once you have received medical treatment, you or a friend or family member should:
Take photos of the area and the dangerous condition that caused your injury
Take photos of any subsequent repairs the crew may have made
Try to identify and get the contact information for any witnesses
Take detailed notes concerning what happened
Request copies of your accident report statement and medical records
Photos of the scene can significantly aid your case. The cruise lines will take pictures of the scene virtually every time a person reports an injury on the ship. The ship’s security staff are trained to take pictures that will help them and hurt you, so acting quickly to get your own photos as soon as you can is important. Often the cruise line’s pictures don’t tell the whole story. The Probst Law Firm can answer any questions you have about how to properly document your cruise ship accident case. Call today for a consultation.
In many cases, the cruise line will ask you to complete a statement while you are waiting to see a doctor. However, this statement is really for the cruise line’s investigation into the accident and has virtually nothing to do with your medical care. Passenger Injury Statements are often a valuable piece of evidence for a cruise line if you bring a lawsuit and are most often drafted while you are distracted and in pain. Under these circumstances, you may leave out an important detail or say something that isn’t correct. These kinds of inadvertent mistakes can be devastating to your case. Therefore, it is usually not in your best interest to provide a signed statement.
You are entitled to your written statement and your medical records. However, that doesn’t mean the ship will necessarily give them to you. If the ship refuses to give you copies of your records, ask for them in writing so that it will be more difficult for the cruise line to claim that you simply never asked for them. If you are unable to get your records even after a written request, it may be time to contact a cruise ship accident attorney who will be able to obtain copies for you. If you are facing a situation where you are trying to obtain records from a cruise line, be sure to contact our firm for assistance and guidance regarding your claim.
If you are injured while on a shore excursion during your cruise, it is important to seek medical attention immediately and report the accident. In addition, take photos of the scene, identify witnesses and obtain their contact information, and take detailed notes as to what happened. Keep all documents and paperwork related to the excursion including those from the cruise line as well as the excursion operator.
Every case is unique and depends upon its own set of facts and circumstances. An experienced cruise line attorney will be able to determine if you have a viable case by conducting a consultation with you and investigating the matter. Because there are strict time limits in cruise line cases (see section titled How much time do I have to sue?” below) it is important to start that investigation as early as possible.
Most crew members have three years to file a claim for personal injury. However, the time frame in which passengers must provide notice of an impending lawsuit is much less. Many cruise lines require that passengers provide written notice of their intent to file a claim within six months, and file suit no later than one year from the accident. If you do not file suit within the appropriate time frame, you may forever be barred from recovery. This is why it is very important to consult with a cruise ship attorney immediately after the accident. Additionally, the sooner you contact a lawyer the sooner you can begin to investigate your accident, interview witnesses, and determine whether or not you have a case. Some other reasons for contacting an attorney early in the process is that an attorney can contact the cruise line for you and demand that certain important information be preserved before the ship changes location, employees leave, and memories fade. Contact our firm for a consultation concerning the statutes of limitation on your cruise ship accident matter.
Passengers do not have a choice of venue when it comes to bringing a lawsuit for a cruise line accident. Most cruise line tickets contain a clause dictating where the suit must be brought. It is important to note that even many shore-side injury cases are subject to the terms of your ticket contract. For most cases, this means that the lawsuit must be filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, regardless of where you live or purchased your ticket. In some cases, a suit must be brought in California or Washington state. Our experienced cruise injury team will be able to answer your questions concerning where to sue.
If you plan to sue a cruise line for an injury suffered during a cruise, it is important to choose an attorney carefully. Not all personal injury attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to successfully sue a cruise line. Some lawyers may even agree to take your case even though they know they will have to hand it off to a maritime attorney. In addition to finding a lawyer with the right knowledge and experience, it is important to hire a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable. Suing a cruise line can be a long and difficult process and it is important that you trust and feel comfortable working with the attorney representing you.
We have the unique advantage of knowing the strategies that the cruise line will use in defense of any claims, having previously represented many major cruise lines in litigation. This insight allows our cruise injury team to aggressively pursue the claims of clients and obtain the maximum compensation available for you.
One of the difficult things about suing a cruise line is that those involved are not all located in one place. You, the doctors, the cruise line, the witnesses, the ship, and the others who may play a role in litigation are often from all over the world. Our firm tries to reduce the effects of this problem by maintaining offices in both Atlanta, Georgia and Weston, Florida. With two offices we have the advantage of being close to most of the major cruise lines’ headquarters, many of the most popular cruise ships, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, where most cruise line lawsuits must be brought. Our office in Atlanta gives us the ability to meet in person with many of our clients, their witnesses and their doctors with just a short drive or flight.
Each and every case is unique. Therefore, it is impossible to determine how much a case is worth until we have fully investigated the circumstances surrounding the accident and your doctors have determined the full extent of your injuries
Our firm handles most cases on a contingency basis. This means you do not pay any attorney fees unless there is a financial recovery. It is important to note that our firm may incur significant expenses in order to litigate your claim. In certain scenarios, we hire medical experts, engineers and boating professionals to fully investigate your case and so that we are prepared to put your best case forward if we have to go to trial. We want you to know this information, as we believe it is critical to understand that as a firm, we will stop at nothing to pursue justice on your behalf.
The process begins by providing notice to the cruise line of your intention to pursue a claim. While there are different time frames in which this must be done, typically cruise lines require such notice within 185 days of the accident. After putting the cruise line on notice, your attorney will conduct a pre-suit investigation while you receive the necessary medical treatment and recover from your injuries.
Once you finish treating (or the statute of limitations approaches), your case will be filed. Soon after your case is filed it will be set for trial, usually within twelve months. During the months leading up to trial, we will conduct discovery. This is the formal fact-finding part of the case when the parties gather information from each other as well as third parties. Fact-finding is done by conducting depositions and exchanging relevant documents. During this phase of the case you will also likely have to give a deposition where the cruise line’s attorney asks you questions under oath. You may also need to submit to a medical examination conducted by the defendant’s doctors. At some point during the discovery phase we will mediate your case. Mediation is a structured settlement conference conducted by a neutral third party. It is an opportunity for the parties to tell each other their side of the case and to try to settle the case with the help of a third party who has no interest in the outcome. If your case doesn’t settle at or before mediation we will continue preparing for trial. Of course, that doesn’t mean that your case can’t settle before trial, but we prepare every case as if it will be tried.
Throughout the pre-trial, discovery, and trial phase of your case we will keep you informed and involved. We don’t make any important decisions without your input and approval.
Each case is different. Sometimes a case may involve minimal involvement from a client. In other cases, it may require several trips to Miami for a deposition, a medical examination, participating in mediation, or attending trial. The Probst Law Firm can answer any questions you have concerning what will likely be required of you for your speciific case.
Just as the facts, circumstances, and complexity of each case vary considerably, so does the length of time it takes to resolve a case. Some cases can be resolved within a few weeks of hiring a lawyer and before you have to do anything more than sign a few documents. Other cases can go all the way to trial and even appeals. Those cases may take several years to resolve. The time it takes to resolve your case may fall anywhere in between those two extremes. Most cases, however, can be resolved within nine months of filing the lawsuit.
You will likely need to travel to Miami at least once. The reason at least one trip is likely to be required is that a cruiseline is unlikely to think they know the full value of your case without deposing you and having you examined by one of their own doctors. And the cruiseline is not likely to offer anything close to a fair settlement until they form an opinion about the full value of your case.
Insurance will typically cover the costs of your treatment. However, the insurance provider may seek repayment from any settlement or judgment you receive. In some cases, doctors may provide treatment to those without insurance coverage, and allow you to pay your bills with the financial recovery you obtain from your lawsuit. Our team will guide you through this process so that you can focus on your recovery and only pay the insurance company what is necessary.
Unless you have experience in that area of the law it is very unlikely you will be able to adequately represent yourself and get the maximum value for your case. Cruise line accident cases are governed by maritime law which is extremely complex and can be difficult to navigate even for some lawyers. The cruise lines know this and they know there is only so much you can do on your own. As a result, it is unlikely that you would be able to obtain fair compensation alone. In most, if not all, cases it takes an experienced maritime attorney to get the best result for your case. However, some smaller cases may be able to be resolved without retaining an attorney. We are happy to discuss all the options available to you.
Geoffrey Probst is a former cruise line defense attorney. He has has represented all of the largest cruise lines. He also started, and for 10 years ran, the in-house litigation department for one of them. That experience has provided extensive knowledge and insight into the strategies used by cruise lines to defend and value lawsuits like yours. Now he uses that knowledge and experience to obtain the maximum compensation available under the law for those who have been injured aboard cruise ships.