Making a Federal Case of Cruise Ship Liability

Millions of passengers go on cruises every year. Unfortunately, injuries, illnesses, or even death on the high seas happen often enough on these ships. There are obviously times when these things happen and they are not the result of any negligence, as human life is indeed delicate.  There are other times, however, that the cruise line is liable for the death of a passenger due to the negligence of the company or one of its employees or agents. Whenever any legal action (or potential legal action) occurs on navigable waters, Federal law controls. Often enough Congress grants states or other entities the ability to regulate and normalize traffic on these water transport lanes, but the default is for the Federal government to control and regulate these matters. This power arises from article three, section two of the federal Constitution. As such, Congress created the Death on The High Seas Act in 1920 pursuant to this authority, which is the sole remedy available for the death of a person in international waters, due to the negligence or unseaworthiness of a vessel. International waters are anything greater than three nautical miles from the coastline. Three nautical miles is about three and one half land (statutory) miles.


As noted, the Death on the High Seas Act is the sole remedy available under the law. It allows a spouse, child(ren), or a dependent to seek compensation for the financial loss that they sustained as a result of the death of their loved one. There is a three-year statute of limitations to file the cause of action in Federal Court. Money spent on a funeral, money that would have been earned and paid for college tuition and other costs in the case of a child, lost inheritance and the like are compensable costs, provided they can be shown with sufficient certainty. A spouse can seek damages for lost services, such as home repair, yard work, general home maintenance, or cooking and cleaning that they have to pay someone for now that their spouse is not able to accomplish the same tasks. It is important to note that non-financial injuries cannot be recovered.  The pain and suffering of the deceased, the lack of parental guidance and the like are not recognized under the Death on the High Seas Act. In addition, the Defendant can seek to mitigate their damages by showing that the deceased contributed to his/her own passing by their own negligence.


If you or someone you know were injured while on a cruise ship, you need an experienced personal injury law firm to ensure that all of your rights are fully protected and you get the maximum recovery allowed under the law. The insurance companies that represent cruise ships will do their utmost to protect their client; you deserve the same. The attorneys of Napoli, Shkolnik, PLLC have the experience, tenacity, and compassion to understand your case in its totality. Call us today at 212-397-1000 or complete our online contact information form and someone will call you in regards to your case.