What’s in my Cruise Line Ticket Contract?
What do Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Costa, Princess, Disney Cruise Lines and all other cruise lines have in common? They all make you enter into a binding contract before you embark on your (hopefully) relaxing, injury-free vacation. You may be surprised to know, however, that by signing the Ticket Contract, or clicking “Accept” at the end of your online reservation, you are agreeing to some legal rights that affect you, should the carefree vacation take a wrong turn. The Ticket Contract is of importance if a passenger becomes injured in one of the following ways while on a cruise (Note: this is nowhere near an exhaustive list):
- A slip and fall injury in the dining room or any other deck on the ship
- A cruise line employee assaults you onboard
- An onboard waterslide or excursion with a dangerous design
- You were assaulted by a fellow passenger
Statute of Limitations
If you slip and fall at a grocery store and injure yourself, Florida law provides an injured person four (4) years to bring a lawsuit. However, what happens if you are enjoying a lovely weekend cruise and slip on a piece of food in the dining room and severely injure yourself? Well, that four year statute of limitations no longer applies, and instead the Ticket Contract most likely calls for the passenger to bring the lawsuit within one (1) year. On top of that, the passenger must notify the cruise line of her intent to bring a claim within six (6) months from the date of the injury. Often times the furtherest thing from someone’s mind who has been injured on a cruise ship is calling an attorney; however, it remains crucial to take steps to ensure you do not miss any important deadlines.
Here is an example of the fine print in Carnival’s Ticket Contract that describes the limitation on a passenger’s time to bring suit:
(a) Carnival shall not be liable for any claims whatsoever for personal injury, illness or death of the guest, unless full particulars in writing are given to Carnival within 185 days after the date of the injury, event, illness or death giving rise to the claim. Suit to recover on any such claim shall not be maintainable unless filed within one year after the date of the injury, event, illness or death, and unless served on Carnival within 120 days after filing. Guest expressly waives all other potentially applicable state or federal limitations periods.
Where to Sue (Forum-Selection Clause)
Another important aspect of the Ticket Contract that is predetermined is where a passenger must bring the lawsuit. Most cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Lines, and Norwegian Cruise Lines require passengers to file their lawsuits in Federal Court in the Southern District of Florida. Seeing as most passengers who travel on cruises are not from South Florida, it becomes difficult to find an attorney within the allotted time to find an attorney. Thus, it remains important to find an attorney who is both licensed to practice in Federal Court in the Southern of District of Florida and well-versed in maritime law.
The following link is the seminal case upholding the Forum-Selection Clause in the ticket contract: Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute. This case, which was decided by the Supreme Court, provides an excellent opinion as to why the forum-selection clause in ticket contracts is enforceable.
The Ticket Contract contains many other unique differences that affect your legal rights and remedies. Therefore, it is imperative that if you are injured on a cruise, you not only take care of yourself but also reach out to an experienced maritime attorney as soon as possible. As a cruise ship lawyer, I receive daily phone calls from passengers that have been injured on cruse ships. Unfortunately, many have waited too long to contact an attorney and the statute of limitations has expired, thereby nullifying any claim they might have had.
Have you or a loved one been injured recently on a cruise? Contact an experienced maritime attorney immediately. For a FREE consultation and case evaluation call Chase Justice Injury Attorneys at our Miami office (305) 677-2228 or contact us online.