Some Of The Most Common Causes Of Death On A Cruise Ship

by Terry Bryant

Each year thousands of people enjoy vacation cruises to ports all over the globe. There is no question that a cruise can be a delightful experience for all involved, with a chance to visit exotic locales and enjoy gourmet dining twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The trip may include shopping and entertainment at your fingertips, beautiful white sandy beaches and azure seas, dreamy cocktails, fascinating cities, and the chance to soak up some foreign culture along with the sun. Cruises provide a sumptuous and leisurely way to travel and are often more about “getting there” than they are the destination. In short, vacation cruises are almost the ideal way to see different parts of the world in comfort, while playing and feasting as you go.

Unfortunately, there is a side to cruises that is not often talked about in the travel brochures or the travel shows, and that is the possibility of fatal accidents. Like any other form of travel, many cruise ships may be safe, where the majority of guests enjoy themselves and suffer no mishaps whatsoever. However, considering the number of individuals that take cruises each year, it is inevitable that fatal incidents will occur.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Death on a Cruise Ship?

  • Falling Overboard – Fortunately, it is not easy to accidentally fall overboard. Cruise ships take precautions to make sure that passengers do not go on deck during inclement weather and high seas. Many of these types of deaths may be attributed to suicide. Still, accidentally falling overboard can and does happen, generally due to negligent safety issues on board.
  • Murder – A cruise ship is a floating and closed environment where you just cannot walk away. Issues on land can be aggravated by the proximity that a cruise ship forces on passengers. Although rare, murder has occurred aboard cruise ships.
  • Sinking Ships – This is a rarity in the Cruise industry, fortunately. However, it does happen. Ships that are not adequately maintained or do not use accepted safety protocols are at risk. Crew errors and malfunctioning equipment can lead to disaster as well.
  • Medical Malpractice – Cruise ships have fully-functioning clinics on board that are typically well-equipped and staffed. Sea sickness is the most common complaint, but these floating hospitals can perform minor surgery if necessary. Just like land-based hospitals, mistakes can be made in the treatment and medications given.
  • Slip and Fall Accidents  – Wet decking, slippery pool decks, and stairs can be dicey to navigate. Most of the accidents that occur due to these circumstances are not lethal, but serious and/or permanent injuries are possible.
  • Physical Assault – Intoxicated passengers have been known to get rowdy, and this can quickly turn into a violent atmosphere.
  • Excursion Vehicle Accidents – As at home, buses, boats, and recreational watercraft such as jet skis can be involved in fatal accidents. Poorly maintained vehicles and driver negligence are common reasons why these accidents happen.
  • Excursion Deaths –  Snorkeling, diving and countryside tours, while fun for most can turn problematic if the crew is negligent or the equipment fails.
  • Ship Catastrophes – Two of the most common ship catastrophes involve collisions with other vessels or stationary objects and fire. Collisions can cause the death of passengers and crew members, as can a fire. Fire is a serious threat, and when flames erupt onboard, it is difficult to get everyone safely into lifeboats as the smoke and flames may hinder sight and cause mass-confusion.

There are some questions an attorney will ask to help determine the best course of action to take after a loss on a cruise ship. To better prepare you in the event one occurs, we have listed a few examples:

  1. Date of the accident? Cruise lines often dictate when claims can be made, so it is important to contact an attorney soon after the incident. Each cruise line is different concerning requirements for claims.
  2. What is the name of the cruise line? Each line controls where hearings occur. Travel may be necessary.
  3. How did the injury or death occur? The more specific the details, the better.
  4. Where did the injury or death happen? Was it aboard ship? Did it happen on an excursion? This knowledge may provide insight as to the reason why the fatality occurred.
  5. Why do you think the cruise line or crew is at fault? Is there any evidence to substantiate the claim?
  6. Are there any witnesses? Witnesses are a great resource and can often offer a clear picture of what happened.
  7. Do any photos or video of the moments leading up to or the accident itself exist? This type of evidence can prove to be crucial in any proceedings.
  8. What kind of expenses have you incurred dealing with the aftermath? This would include medical expenses, repatriation of the deceased, funeral costs, loss of income, etc.

If you or anyone you know has been seriously injured or lost a loved one during a cruise, you may want to consider contacting a law firm that has experience with maritime law and representing cruise passengers, workers, and their families. Every case is different, but the best way to find out if you can seek compensatory damages is to speak with a qualified attorney.