Cruise Ship – Accidents and Injuries – Excursion Injuries
Not all cruise ship injuries happen on board the ship. Some happen shore side, on a land-based excursion. The reason many people go on a cruise is to explore the world and to see places they have never been to before. Therefore, the moment an opportunity presents itself to explore foreign lands or a foreign culture, many travelers jump on it. Sometimes, passengers get injured during these excursions. Just because the injury happened outside the vessel does not preclude it from liability.
Many cruises offer excursions as part of their packages. Others, cautious of unnecessary expenses, contract with excursion companies to take passengers on shore.
Suppose you and your family decide to go on an excursion into a foreign land. Best-case scenario, you and your family travel the island, state or foreign country and return to the ship full of happy memories. No one is injured. Sometimes, however, injuries do occur. Worst-case scenario, the injury leads to death.
Excursion injuries can occur while:
- Disembarking. The ship has docked, and a passenger is departing the vessel, only to slip and fall on the ramp or steps, incurring head, neck, limb or back injuries.
- In Transit to Location. The passenger hops onto a tender boat that is driven recklessly, overloaded, has defective equipment or docks improperly, and the passenger falls overboard sustaining injuries or drowning.
- Engaging in Tourist Activities. The passenger gets to shore safely but in the course of the excursion, is injured when a car he is being driven in gets into an accident or for some other cause while on shore.
- Victimized Onshore. The passenger disembarks from the vessel safely but falls victim to criminals in the course of the excursion.
Cruise Ships May be Liable for Excursion Injuries
Cruise companies may still be liable for injuries occurring in the course of excursions. Whenever passengers get onboard a cruise ship, the company owes them a duty to ensure they are kept safe throughout their journey, until they reach their destination. This means that the ship operator has a responsibility to warn passengers of any dangers in the places a cruise ship docks and passengers can reasonably be expected to disembark and explore.
In addition, if a cruise company contracts an outside excursion company, the cruise company could still be held liable if it contracted negligently. For example, if it did not perform a background check of the company and the company is known for poor and dangerous behavior. In Smolnikar v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., the court held that a cruise company should inquire into a contracted outside company to ensure their passengers will be kept safe.
The outside excursion company could also be held liable for an excursion injury if it acted negligently, say it failed to warn passengers of dangerous places to visit or failed to ensure its means of transportation was reasonably functional.
Some cruise companies and contracted companies like to include exculpatory clauses at the back of their tickets. However, courts have shown caution in enforcing these clauses. An experienced maritime injury lawyer will help you argue your case against these companies.