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Wrongful Death Aboard Cruise Ship


Tragically, a man enjoying his vacation aboard a cruise ship was lost overboard last month in the Bahamas. The Carnival Liberty, upon learning that the man went over the railings, turned back to search for him. The U.S. Coast Guard spent over 29 hours searching for the man, and covered over 1,000 square miles, according to the Sun Sentinel. According to the Coast Guard mission controller, “Suspending a search is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make and it is made with great care and consideration.” The 32-year-old man, Reco Scott of Georgia, fell overboard 10 miles from land, just north of the Berry Islands.

Lack of Safety Measures

When finding fault with the cruise ship during a fall overboard, there are two routes to go: showing that the ship was responsible for causing the fall, or showing that the staff failed to take a quick, well-trained approach to the rescue of the overboard victim. In the former, causes for a passenger falling overboard could potentially be any of the following:

  • Lack of proper railing or damaged railing;
  • Lack of warning in the form of an announcement (such as during a storm) or signage;
  • Erratic or abrupt movement of the vessel; and/or
  • Slip and fall caused by unsafe surface, poor lighting, etc.

It may not be necessary to prove that it was the cruise ship’s fault that the passenger fell overboard, however. It may be that the cruise ship was negligent in providing an adequate rescue attempt.

Passenger’s Fault for Falling, but Cruise Ship Displays Negligent Rescue Attempt

There are many instances when a passenger may fall overboard on their own accord, such as intoxication, fatigue, illness, horseplay, or other reasons. While falling overboard may be the fault of that specific passenger, the cruise ship company can still be held legally negligent if certain safety measures were not adhered to. For example, was the search conducted swiftly, efficiently, and proficiently? Or, was the search and rescue conducted by staff members sloppy, unprepared, and with significant delay? Time is obviously of the essence during a passenger overboard situation. The fall itself can easily knock out a person, as the decks of many cruise ships are over 100 feet off the water. In fact, some of the largest cruise ships have 16 or more decks and are over 200 feet above the water, according to The Telegraph. To give an example of how jarring even a fall from 100 feet or less can be, 95 to 98 percent of falls from 250 feet onto water are fatal. The chances of a passenger surviving a fall into turbulent water and being able to keep themselves afloat, whether they were intoxicated or not, decrease as time passes, which is why it is so important that a speedy rescue attempt is initiated at once. If the cruise ship staff did not immediately take action, the cruise ship could be held financially responsible for the injury or death of the victim.

Contact Us Today

If you were injured at sea or lost a loved one in Miami, call the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. today at 305-359-1999.  We are prepared to help you throughout each step of your case.




  • American Association for Justice
  • Florida Justice Association
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  • American Association for Justice

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Contact the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. for a free initial consultation with Michael Guilford. Flexible appointment times are available. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. Call toll free 866-473-2636 or describe your injuries in an email.

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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

Courthouse Tower, Suite 750
44 West Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33130

Toll Free: 866-473-2636
Phone: 305-539-1999
Fax: 305-539-1998