Cruise ship lawyers versus personal injury lawyers – which direction should you take after a cruise ship accident?
Over my career I have had the privilege of helping countless cruise passengers get compensation for injuries that they have suffered in cruise ship accidents.
However, not all injured passengers turn to specialist cruise ship lawyers. Many instead seek advice from general personal injury lawyers.
This leads to the question: who should you use if you’ve been injured in a cruise ship accident? A cruise ship lawyer or a personal injury lawyer?
Of course as a cruise ship lawyer myself, I am biased and it won’t be a spoiler to tell you that at the end of this article I conclude that instructing cruise ship lawyers is your best bet if you are injured on a cruise ship. However, read on if you want to find out why that is my view.
1. Cruise ship lawyers understand jurisdictional issues
The laws that apply to accidents on cruise ships differ to those that apply on land.
Take, for example, a slip on a spilled drink in a fast food restaurant. If this happened in a shopping mall in a Melbourne suburb, a claim in negligence would be governed by Victorian law.
However, if the same accident occurred in the burger outlet on a cruise ship in international waters sailing out of Melbourne to New Zealand, a claim in negligence would be dealt with under the laws of the ship’s flag state. This is usually not as consumer friendly as Australian law.
Cruise ship lawyers deal with such jurisdictional issues like this on a daily basis. We can therefore advise our clients on appropriate causes of action against cruise lines, such as claims of negligence, breach of contract, and breach of the Australian Consumer Law.
For general personal injury lawyers, however, these jurisdictional issues can often be unchartered territory.
For more information about jursidiction for cruise ship accidents, read my article Personal Injury On Cruise Ship Jurisdiction – Which Laws Apply?
2. We are familiar with cruise booking conditions
No matter how you book your cruise holiday, whether it be through a travel agent or direct with the cruise line, there will be terms and conditions that apply to your booking.
The terms and conditions of your cruise booking are highly relevant if you have the misfortune of suffering from a cruise ship accident and wish to bring a personal injury claim.
As a basic starting point, the terms and conditions will usually determine which country’s law applies to the contract, and which courts you have to sue in if you can’t settle your claim.
However, the terms and conditions can become far more complex. For example, there may be limitation of liability clauses, clauses incorporating (or at least trying to incorporate) international maritime conventions, clauses regarding carriers and charterers who in turn might have their own terms and conditions…the list goes on.
Cruise ship lawyers come across these terms and conditions regularly, whereas such contracts sail across the desks of general personal injury lawyers far less regularly.
3. Cruise ship lawyers know their opponents
The major cruise lines tend to have their own in house legal teams, or instruct the same specialist transport lawyers at external law firms. As cruise ship lawyers deal with cruise accident cases on a daily basis, we therefore face the same opponents regularly and build rapport with them.
This is an advantage to cruise ship lawyers and our clients. Whilst cruise ship lawyers will always act in our own clients’ best interests, having a courteous and professional relationship with the other side assists with the claims process.
For example, if one of my clients misses a medical appointment and I need a short extension to submit the medical report to the cruise line’s lawyers, they are more likely to agree if I have agreed to similar extensions for them in the past.
It can also assist in negotiations. For example, I know from my experience that I cannot go to a settlement meeting and ambush the cruise line’s lawyers with a Schedule of Damages (the document setting out what my client wants). Instead, I know that a cruise line’s lawyers needs to receive this document a couple of weeks ahead of the meeting so that they can review it and get instructions from the cruise line’s or their insurer’s head office which is usually in the US or Europe.
Working opposite the same lawyers has also enabled me to build my reputation amongst them. Although acting for opposite sides, I have been complimented by opponent lawyers in the past about the clear and detailed Schedules of Damages that I have submitted which has facilitated them to get effective instructions from their cruise line clients. The quality of my work now speaks for itself.
Even small things like knowing what kind of coffee my opponent drinks and having a quick chat about holidays or kids before negotiations kick off sets the tone for a constructive rather than adversarial settlement meeting.
General personal injury lawyers, however, may never have had a claim against their opponent before. This leads to them missing out on the benefits that such rapport brings.
Why using cruise ship lawyers is preferred
So there you have it – my top 3 reasons why I recommend using cruise ship lawyers rather than general personal injury lawyers for your cruise injury claim.
I love to travel and know how much excitement, planning and anticipation goes into every holiday. I therefore genuinely wish you a safe cruise wherever you might be sailing to, and hope that you never have to weigh up whether to use cruise ship lawyers or personal injury lawyers when you get back.
However, if the unthinkable happens and you are injured on a cruise holiday, please feel free to contact me. I have brought successful cruise ship accident compensation claims for numerous injured cruise passengers, giving them the compensation that they need and deserve to get their lives back on course.
And finally let me give you a tip about an essential item to pack on your cruise that won’t take up any room in your suitcase! Before you set sail, download my free Cruise Ship Accident Checklist so you know what to do if you or someone you know is injured on your next cruise. Save it your phone and forget about it. I hope you don’t need to use it, but if you or a loved one has an accident on the cruise it will be a very useful resource.