Who Is Liable During A Cruise Ship Excursion?
Cruise ships offer excursions to passengers as part of an overall total package. These excursions can include trips to wonderful places and scenic delights. However, in one case, an excursion to an active volcano caused several deaths. The question then becomes: Who is liable when an excursion causes death and injury? The answer is complicated.
In some cases, cruise ships will run excursions on their own. In other cases, the excursions will be operated by a third party. If the excursion is operated by a third party, then the third party can be liable. But not all excursions are dangerous. Some simply involve shopping trips. So the unsatisfying answer to the question of who is liable during a cruise ship excursion is any party that contributed liability to the injury.
When is the cruise line liable?
According to the cruise line, they’re almost never liable when a customer is injured on an excursion. The cruise line is under the opinion that the customer transfers the duty of care for their safety to the excursion company once they leave the vessel. This might be true in some cases, but the cruise line has a duty of care to vet excursion providers. If it hires an excursion provider with a history of causing injuries, they can be held liable for exposing their customers to danger.
Often, however, the liability will fall on the excursion company if the excursion company does not protect their customers from dangers.
When is the excursion company liable?
In most cases, the excursion company will be held liable for causing the injury with the cruise line listed as a secondary defendant. Some of the blame might be allotted to the cruise line for failing to properly vet the excursion company, but the majority of liability would fall on the excursion company.
As an example, a lawsuit was filed against Royal Caribbean alleging that a bus accident is their fault. Royal Caribbean hired an excursion company that hired the bus driver that caused an accident that left several injured and one dead. The excursion company was from Jamaica and had few assets against which to sue. Royal Caribbean knows that by placing customers in their care, they may have no recourse to recover damages related to injuries. The plaintiffs contend that the burden thus shifts to Royal Caribbean while Royal Caribbean claims they had no direct control over the driver.
This is the sort of confusion that ship excursions cause for the courts. A determination must now be made as to whether or not Royal Caribbean is responsible for the accident because they had an arrangement with an insolvent foreign company. If not, then the plaintiffs are out of luck.
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Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford represents the interests of crew and counsel during personal injury, employment, and other types of seamen lawsuits. We also represent passengers for passenger claims aboard pleasure craft. Call today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your next options immediately.