Cruise Ship – Accidents and Injuries – Drowning Accidents
Drowning can occur anywhere: in a community swimming pool, ocean or even in a bath tub. These tragedies can happen to anyone, regardless of age or fitness level, swimmer or non-swimmer. Most major cruise lines have multiple pools on board, making them prime locations for drowning deaths. In fact, given the sheer number of people aboard the ships at any given time and the very few minutes in which drowning occurs, cruise ships are particularly exposed to drowning accidents.
You would expect that because of this, every cruise ship would have a lifeguard on board. Sadly, this is not the case. Many cruise ships do not have lifeguards. Even the three largest carriers did not have lifeguards until February 2017. Unfortunately, this factor has contributed to many cruise ship drowning deaths, especially among children.
Even Drowning Survivors are Severely Affected
Drowning is a traumatic experience. Even if a person survives the ordeal, the damage caused to the body is life-altering. Here’s what happens when a person drowns:
- Underwater, the person goes into panic mode.
- Because of the initial panic, the body exerts energy to try to stay afloat. Burning energy increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the body.
- The body is starved of the oxygen it needs to survive.
- The person coughs and tries to gulp in air, but they end up breathing only water.
- The person’s throat closes shut to protect the lungs from the incoming water. This makes crying out for help impossible.
- Starved of oxygen, the brain shuts down, and the person becomes unconscious.
- In this state, the throat loosens up; water fills the lungs.
- The heart struggles to pump blood. It eventually stops.
This can all happen within minutes.
Given the crowded-nature of cruise ship pools and the lack of professional lifeguards, it is difficult to spot a drowning victim. Often, there are no signs of distress, and as the person loses consciousness, they simply slip down to the bottom of the pool.
Even if the person survives, severe internal body damage may have occurred, especially in the brain and lungs. In fact, internal damage can occur if a person is submerged for more than five minutes. Brain death can occur after just a few minutes.
Cruise Ships Owe a Duty of Care to Passengers
Cruise ships are getting bigger and bigger. They accommodate more people than ever before and have more swimming pools than before. However, many do not take precautions to safeguard the lives of passengers on board, especially children.
Under maritime law, cruise ships owe passengers a duty of care. They have a duty to ensure the ship is reasonably kept to ensure the safety of passengers throughout the journey. If the cruise company breaches that duty and injury results, then the cruise line may be held liable for those injuries. If someone suffers injuries from a near-drowning, they have the right to file an action under the maritime law. Survivors of victims who died from drowning also have the right to file an action against the cruise line for wrongful death.
There are strict deadlines when it comes to filing a lawsuit against a cruise line, typically 3 years from the date of injury. However, the cruise company may have limited your time to file on the ticket that you purchased. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a drowning accident on a cruise ship, talk to an experienced maritime law attorney as soon as possible.