Passenger And Crew Disappearances Aboard Cruise Ships
Cruise ship disappearances occur with some frequency. Both passengers and crew members can wind up missing. When this happens, the cruise ship has little incentive to report the individual missing or presumed dead. Instead, they simply figure that the person went AWOL and it’s not their responsibility. If someone falls overboard, the cruise line will immediately assume they took their own life. There is unlikely to be a thorough investigation that satisfies the needs of those who are missing their loved one. Instead, the cruise line will immediately move to protect itself from liability.
What flag does your vessel fly?
A ship captain has a duty to report all missing individuals to the country under which they fly their flag. At present, there is only one cruise ship that flies its flag under the American flag and that is Norwegian Cruise’s Pride of America. If you’re on a Carnival or Royal Caribbean cruise, chances are good your missing person’s report will be sent to the Bahamas. Loved ones attempting to find information on the investigation must go through foreign authorities. Often, it is easier simply to hire a Maritime lawyer to coordinate between the cruise company, the foreign officials, and whoever else than to run down all of this information on your own. Plus, lawyers can leverage the courts to force companies to divulge sensitive information that a private citizen probably couldn’t.
It’s rare that a passenger falls overboard on a cruise ship. They are very large, after all. However, a handful of cases occur each year and statistically, they are related to horseplay and drunkenness. That makes them very difficult to litigate. The cruise ship can claim that the passenger contributed to their own death or injury by engaging in horseplay while drunk and most people will agree that the passenger was at fault. However, chances are good that the cruise ship will not investigate the matter thoroughly because if the individual fell overboard during an attack, they could be held liable.
Duties of the ship captain
In the event that someone goes missing from the ship’s manifest, the captain has a duty of care to conduct an immediate search. The ship should return to the place where the individual was last seen and conduct their search from there, retracing their steps. Failure to conduct this search could be actionable. However, it is rare to recover an individual alive after they fall overboard. Only one in about every 5 individuals who fall overboard is rescued alive.
Cruise Ship Disappearance Lawsuits
If your loved one has disappeared from a cruise ship, the cruise ship has a duty to seek and rescue the individual. If they do not, they can be held liable for the individual’s death. Call Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.