What Happens if You Get Injured on a Cruise Ship?

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What Happens if You Get Injured on a Cruise Ship?

Going on a cruise ship holiday is a popular choice for many, offering a unique blend of travel and leisure. Despite the high safety standards on these trips, accidents and injuries can still happen. If you find yourself injured on a cruise, it's important to know the steps to take immediately after the incident, and what to expect when seeking compensation.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know, from getting the right medical treatment to making a cruise ship accident claim.

Cruise Ship Accidents

Understanding cruise ship accidents involves recognising the various situations that can lead to passenger injuries. Accidents on cruise ships range from slips and falls on wet decks to more serious incidents like onboard fires or collisions. Given the diverse activities and facilities available on most ships, passengers might also experience injuries related to recreational activities or due to malfunctioning equipment.

You may be worried that the location of these incidents, often in international waters or foreign ports, adds a layer of complexity to any potential claims for compensation. However, if you are a passenger on a cruise many such cases are governed by special rules, under the Athens Convention, which must be adhered to. This complexity underscores the importance of understanding cruise ship passengers' rights and the cruise lines' responsibilities in ensuring their safety.

This branch of law governs private maritime disputes and injuries at sea, dictating how cruise ship injury claims are processed and resolved. Knowing the basics of this piece of maritime law can be invaluable for passengers seeking to make a cruise ship accident claim.

Immediate Steps After Injury

If you are injured on a cruise ship, taking immediate and appropriate steps is crucial for your health and any subsequent claim you may wish to pursue. Here’s a straightforward guide to follow:

  1. Seek medical attention: your first priority should be to get medical help. Cruise ships are equipped with medical facilities and healthcare professionals. Even if the injury seems minor, it’s important to have it assessed - this ensures your wellbeing and provides a medical record of the incident.
  2. Report the incident: as soon as you're able, report the injury to the ship’s staff. This report should detail how, where, and when the accident occurred. Ensure you get a copy of this report; it’s a vital piece of evidence for any future claim and can help ensure remedial measures are taken to prevent any future injuries to other passengers
  3. Document everything: take photographs of the location where the injury happened, especially if there were any hazards like wet floors or broken equipment. If there were any witnesses, try to get their contact details. Keep a record of your medical treatments and any related expenses as well.
  4. Keep communication records: if you communicate with the cruise line or their representatives about your injury, keep a record of all correspondence. This includes emails, letters and notes from any phone conversations.
  5. Don’t sign without advice: the cruise line might offer a settlement or ask you to sign documents following your injury. It’s critical that you do not sign anything or accept any offer without first getting legal advice.

The Role of Maritime Law and the Athens Convention

Maritime law, and specifically the Athens Convention often plays a pivotal role in cases involving cruise ship accidents for passengers. This specialised convention governs activities, incidents and injuries that occur during international travel. Understanding the influence of maritime law is essential for anyone looking to pursue a cruise ship accident claim, as it shapes the legal landscape in which these claims are made and resolved.

Non Passengers 

If you are not a passenger on an international ship, for example, if you are a crew member, one of the unique aspects of maritime law is the issue of jurisdiction. Since cruise ships often travel through international waters and visit ports in different countries, determining which country’s laws apply to an incident can be complex. Typically, the laws of the flag state (the country where the ship is registered) have authority, but there are exceptions, especially if the injury occurs while docked in a port or within a country's territorial waters.


The Athens Convention also sets out principles concerning the liability of cruise lines for accidents and injuries that occur on their ships. To make a successful claim, passengers usually need to prove either that the injury was caused by a defect on the ship, or due to the carrier's fault or neglect.  This can involve showing that the cruise line failed to maintain safe conditions on the ship, or did not adequately warn passengers of potential hazards.

Claim Processes and Limitations

Under the Athens Convention, there is a strict deadline for pursuing a claim which must be adhered to. We would recommend you seek early advice.   

Cruise Ship Responsibilities

Cruise ship companies have a significant duty of care towards their passengers under the Convention. This responsibility encompasses ensuring the safety and wellbeing of everyone on board, from action to disembarkation. Understanding the scope of these responsibilities is vital for passengers, especially in the context of accidents or injuries.

Ensuring Passenger Safety

First and foremost, cruise lines are obligated to maintain a safe environment on their ships. This includes regular maintenance and safety checks of the vessel, proper crew training in safety procedures, and adequate security measures to protect passengers. All equipment used for both leisure and emergency purposes must be kept in good working order.

Provision of Medical Facilities

Cruise ships are equipped with medical facilities and staffed by qualified medical professionals to provide care for passengers in case of injury. The level of care should be sufficient to address common medical emergencies and conditions that could occur on board. The cruise ship company is responsible for ensuring that these medical services are accessible and adequately equipped to meet passengers’ health needs.

Information and Assistance

In the event of an accident, cruise lines are expected to offer clear information and assistance to the injured party. This includes guiding them through the process of receiving medical care, documenting the incident, and providing necessary support to address the injury’s immediate aftermath. Transparent communication is key to managing such situations effectively.

Compliance with Regulations

Lastly, cruise ship operators must adhere to a wide range of international and national laws and regulations governing maritime operations, safety standards, and passenger rights. Compliance is a legal requirement and a fundamental aspect of their duty of care towards passengers.

Making a Cruise Ship Accident Claim

Making a cruise ship accident claim involves navigating through a series of steps to seek compensation for injuries sustained onboard. Understanding this process is essential for ensuring a successful claim due to the complexities associated with maritime law and international jurisdictions.

After receiving medical treatment and documenting the incident, the first step is to consult with a solicitor who specialises in cruise ship accident claims. Their expertise in maritime law and experience with the intricacies of cruise ship claims are invaluable for guiding you through the process and maximising your chances of a successful outcome.

2. Gather and Preserve Evidence

Your solicitor will advise you on the specific types of evidence that will strengthen your claim. This typically includes medical reports, photographs of the accident scene, witness statements, and any correspondence with the cruise line regarding the incident. Preserving this evidence is critical for substantiating your claim.

3. Understand the Claim Basis

. Demonstrating fault or neglect can be complex and requires a detailed understanding of what cruise lines are legally expected to provide in terms of safety and care.

4. File Within the Time Limits

There are strict time limited. Missing these deadlines can result in the dismissal of your claim, so it's important to act promptly.

5. Negotiate a Settlement

Many cruise ship accident claims are resolved through settlements before reaching court. Your solicitor will negotiate with the cruise line on your behalf, aiming to secure a compensation package that covers medical expenses, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, and any other damages relevant to your case.

6. Prepare for Litigation

If a settlement cannot be reached, your claim may proceed to court. Preparing for litigation involves compiling a comprehensive case, including expert testimonies if necessary, to present before a judge. Your solicitor will handle all aspects of the litigation process, advocating on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.

JMW's Expertise in Cruise Ship Claims

JMW stands at the forefront of legal services for individuals injured on cruise ships, bringing unparalleled expertise and a compassionate approach to each case. Our team specialises in navigating the complexities of cruise ship claims, offering tailored advice and robust representation to secure the compensation our clients deserve.

Comprehensive Support Through the Claim Process

From the initial consultation to the resolution of your case, JMW provides comprehensive support to our clients. We guide you through every step of the claim process, ensuring you understand your rights and the actions necessary to pursue your claim successfully. Our goal is to make the process as straightforward and stress-free as possible, allowing you to focus on your recovery.

Proven Track Record of Success

JMW has a proven track record of securing significant compensation for cruise ship compensation claims. Our success stems from our meticulous approach to case preparation, including gathering robust evidence and expert testimonies to support your claim. We are committed to achieving the best possible outcome for each client, whether through negotiation and settlement or at trial.

Dedicated to Client Care

At JMW, we pride ourselves on our empathetic and client-focused approach. We understand the physical and emotional toll that an injury can take, which is why we handle each case with sensitivity and care. Our team is always accessible to answer your questions, provide updates on your case, and offer the reassurance you need during this challenging time.

No Win, No Fee Representation

We offer our services on a 'no win, no fee' basis, underscoring our confidence in our ability to successfully manage your claim. This arrangement ensures that accessing our legal expertise is risk-free, with no upfront costs to you. Our fees are transparently explained from the outset, with no hidden charges.

Talk to Us

If you or a loved one has been injured on a cruise ship, get in touch with our solicitors today to discuss making a cruise ship accident claim. You can contact us by calling 0345 872 6666, or by filling in our online enquiry form and letting us know when it is best to contact you.

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