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When they wouldn’t listen to your Symptoms

Cruise Ship Medical Malpractice Lawyer

You trusted them to Help

Unreliable Care

No one ever expects to get sick or injured while on vacation. But when the unthinkable occurs and you need to seek medical attention while on a cruise ship, most passengers assume that the on-site doctors will provide them with the highest standard of care. Unfortunately, many of these on-site doctors do not provide passengers with the level of care that should be received, which has resulted in numerous cases of medical malpractice. 

How it works

Negligent Operations & Vicarious Liability

Shipboard Malpractice: Doctors & Nurses

Often, the ship doctor, nurse, or medical staff are the ones directly responsible for the medical malpractice. Just like with any other medical professional, passengers assume that the doctor or nurse is licensed and insured with malpractice insurance like their shoreside equivalents. After all, the cruise line knows your options are limited when it comes to receiving medical care on the ship. A reputable industry giant would not cut corners to save a couple bucks with potentially life or death medical care, right?

It makes sense that passengers trust that the medical professionals onboard will treat them with the same level of care they would receive from their family physician back home. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Many onboard physicians are not licensed to practice medicine in the US. Most cruise lines also attempt to play legal gymnastics with their medical staff and call them “independent contractors” despite requiring that they wear cruise line uniforms and have no other patients than the ships passengers. Making matters worse, most ship medical staff are from abroad and usually are not within the jurisdiction of US courts where passengers are required to pursue claims per their ticket contracts.

If that was was not bad enough, ship physicians typically do not carry malpractice insurance.  This enables the cruise lines to claim they are not liable for their contractor’s mistakes to avoid being held accountable.  This puts passengers that have been hurt by incompetent, poorly-trained medical providers in a very difficult position when it comes to receiving compensation for their injuries.

Cruise Ship medical negligence & Malpractice

Due to the labyrinth of legal hurdles put in place by the cost-minded cruise lines prioritizing profits over passengers, many passengers are unable to recover the full value of their cases. Do not be fooled, this complicated framework was designed to make most weary victims of onboard malpractice lose their motivation to give up their pursuit for the justice they deserve. 

One of the question we get asked most frequently by prospective clients is what is the difference between medical  malpractice and medical negligence? A cruise ship medical malpractice lawyer will tell you that it depends on the medical practitioner’s intent. Florida’s Supreme COurt attempted to clarify the distinctions in its 2018 opinion in Townes v. Nat’l Deaf Academy.

If the act was intentional, it is considered malpractice because the medical professional performed an act that was inappropriate or unreasonable under the circumstances and it relates more to competence. On the other hand, medical negligence applies more broadly to acts that are not necessarily medical decision in nature but nonetheless are negligence in the medical setting unrelated to a doctor’s professional judgement. 

According to the Florida Supreme Court, the difference between the two is somewhat nuanced and that malpractice must be related to the practitioners’ judgement. On the other hand,  medical negligence meant the manner in which a procedure that was performed in the medical setting that did not rely on a medical professional’s medical judgment. Compare that to what was considered medical negligence which was a case involving the failure to perform a restraining hold of a psych ward inpatient correctly that caused injuries.  

A cruise ship medical malpractice lawyer will fight for you

Faced with an inability to be able to receive any type of compensation from the individual medical professionals, the only option available to most victims of shipboard medical malpractice is to sue the cruise ship for medical negligence. Cruise lines will often deny any liability for injuries or deaths resulting from medical malpractice on one of their ships, claiming that these doctors and nurses are not ship employees.

Consequentially, the avenues left to the injured victims is to pursue the more difficult avenues of liability based on agency law and negligent hiring or supervision of the medical staff.  However, we always advise clients that have entrusted us to help them pursue their malpractice claims against the cruise lines that they should not get discouraged. 

In reality, although they can be difficult and often expensive, experienced maritime injury attorneys can succeed in their fight for justice by navigating the loop holes by showing the failure of the cruise lines to properly vet onboard medical professionals before allowing them to treat passengers.

Review Your Cruise Ship Ticket

Your legal claim for injuries sustained on a cruise ship is directly controlled by the language found within the cruise line passenger’s ticket. These tickets contain contractual language, establishing the specific guidelines of a lawsuit against the cruise company, including the following:   

  • How long you have to file a claim or the statute of limitations;
  • When notice must be presented regarding your incident; 
  • Where you can file a claim, including venue; 
  • How you can pursue the legal claim, including whether the matter must go through arbitration, first.

Cruise Ship Duty of Care

Federal maritime law places a legal duty on the cruise line company to use reasonable care at all times. This duty extends to any independent contractor or individual employed by the cruise line, including medical staff and personnel.

Tips to Maximize Your Recovery

Injuries sustained on a cruise ship, must be thoroughly documented. Whatever the context, doing the following after you have sustained an injury onboard or in a port of call can help maximize your recovery:

  • Photograph the injury.
  • Inform medical personnel or crew members.
  • Record the names of witnesses.
  • Seek immediate shoreside medical attention if possible.
  • Request a copy of medical records.

Cases such as these are not easy ones to win, and they require the assistance of experienced maritime injury attorneys. At Delgado Trial Attorneys, we regularly fight for the rights of injured cruise ship passengers in situations like these.

Time is of the essence, when filing a lawsuit against one of the major cruise lines. These claims must be filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Passengers have just one year from the date of the accident to file a claim. It is important that you hire an attorney experienced in handling cruise injuries in order to successfully recover damages to compensate for an injury sustained while onboard a cruise ship.

Tips to Maximize Your Recovery

The Miami-based maritime personal injury attorneys at Delgado Trial Attorneys  possess a skill set that few other maritime attorneys can claim, which is an extensive experience representing the cruise lines and developing their defense strategies years before they started representing the passengers and crew members that suffered injuries because of the cruise lines’ negligence. Combined with Raul Delgado, Sr.’s  43 years of personal injury experience fighting on behalf of injured accident victims, Delgado Trial Attorneys offers a combination of experience in all types of cruise ship personal injuries unlike any of their competitors.

Our experience allows us to effectively strategize and advocate for every client we represent. We have handled all types of cruise ship passenger accidents over the years with a focus on slip, trip and falls, medical malpractice, FlowRider accidents, sexual assaults, Death on the High Seas, and more. Contact our law firm today for a free case evaluation. Virtual sign-ups available.


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