Simply because a person suffers harm on a cruise does not necessarily mean that the entity that owns the cruise ship will be held liable. Rather, in most instances, the injured party must demonstrate that the parties that owned or ran the cruise had some sort of notice of the dangerous condition that ultimately caused the alleged harm. Usually, information regarding notice is obtained via discovery. Thus, if a defendant refuses to respond to discovery requests, it can greatly impair a plaintiff’s rights. The scope of discoverable information in a negligence claim against a company that owns a cruise ship was recently discussed in a Florida case in which the plaintiff’s decedent died during an excursion. If you or a loved one were hurt during a cruise, you might be owed compensation and should speak to a trusted Florida personal injury attorney to discuss your potential claims.
Facts of the Case
Allegedly, the plaintiff’s decedent suffered fatal injuries in an ATV accident while on an excursion during a cruise aboard a ship owned by the defendant. As such, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging claims of negligence. During the course of discovery, the defendant objected to an interrogatory from the plaintiff that sought information regarding other incidents in which passengers on cruise ships owned by the defendant were injured or killed on ATV excursions in the three years prior to the decedent’s death. The defendant objected to the question as overbroad, after which the plaintiff filed a motion to compel the defendant to provide the information sought.
Scope of Discovery in Negligence Claims Against Cruise Companies
In Florida, maritime law governs the liability of a cruise ship for a passenger’s harm. Florida courts analyzing maritime tort cases rely on general negligence principles. Thus, to prove negligence, a plaintiff must demonstrate that a defendant had a duty to protect the plaintiff from a particular injury, the defendant breached the duty, and the breach proximately and actually caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury, which caused actual harm.
The duty owed by a shipowner is to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. As such, prior to imposing liability for harm caused by a dangerous condition, the plaintiff must show that the shipowner had notice, whether actual or constructive, of the dangerous condition. In other words, a cruise ship owner or operator only has a duty to warn passengers of known dangers. Constructive notice can be demonstrated by showing that a hazard existed for an extended period of time prior to an injury.
In the subject case, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant knew or should have known of the risks inherent in the ATV excursions and should have warned the plaintiff’s decedent of the risks. As such, the court found that the interrogatory in question sought information relevant to the plaintiff’s claims, and ordered the defendant to answer it fully.
Meet with a Trusted Personal Injury Attorney
People are frequently injured on cruises, and in many cases, the harm they suffer is preventable and would not have occurred absent the negligence of the company that owns the cruise. If you were hurt or lost a loved one on a cruise, it is prudent to speak to an attorney regarding your rights. The trusted Florida personal injury attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are proficient at handling claims against companies that negligently operate cruise ships and we will fight tirelessly to help you seek a favorable outcome. We can be contacted at 800-283-7442 or via the form online to set up a conference.