cruise injury attorney

Cruise Injuries Create Complicated Legal Issues

Taking a Caribbean cruise this year? Traveling to an all-inclusive resort for a well-deserved vacation? Be safe. Bringing a lawsuit against a cruise line or a resort for injuries or damages occurring on board or at a foreign location is not easy.

When you purchase a cruise line ticket or book your hotel, you are probably thinking about all the fun you will have and not what can go wrong. In the fine print of your tickets and reservations, however, cruise lines and resorts insert language that limits your opportunity to sue them. The language is a contract that you agree to when you purchase the ticket and courts generally enforce it.

First, cruise lines and resorts almost always reduce the time you have to bring a lawsuit to one year instead of the two years most states allow for filing of injury lawsuits. If a passenger or guest fails to act promptly, he or she may lose the ability to sue. Second, cruise lines and resorts usually insert a “forum selection clause.” This clause requires passengers to sue the cruise line or resort in the court of its own choosing, generally a location where the law is more favorable.

In Seung v. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Inc., the injured passenger, an elderly resident of California, filed suit against the cruise line in Florida. However, the cruise line’s forum selection clause required any legal action against the company occurring on a cruise that did not include a U.S. port to be brought in Paris, France. Unfortunately, the woman’s cruise took place in the Polynesian Islands. The Florida federal court dismissed the case. It ruled that the age and physical condition of the passenger was not a valid reason to strike the forum selection clause as unduly harsh. The court ruled the woman did not have to take the cruise and may have benefitted from a lower fare by virtue of less legal exposure to the company in French courts.

Third, cruise lines and resorts may insert a “choice of law” clause in the ticket or reservation language. While the “forum selection clause” controls where a lawsuit may be filed, the “choice of law clause” controls which country’s law may apply. The choice of law clause may have a huge impact on the amount of money an injured passenger can recover. For example, if a Liberian flagged cruise ship operating out of a U.S. port imposes Liberian law instead of U.S. admiralty law, a passenger’s damages may be limited to $70,000.00. And even U.S. admiralty law is not as favorable to a passenger’s recovery as traditional state tort law is.

In a cruise ship fiasco, passengers may recover for any physical injuries causally connected to accident. However, those who simply suffered from frayed nerves and exasperation will have a more difficult time. While they no doubt may suffer from emotional distress and disappointment of a dream vacation turned nightmare, admiralty law requires emotional distress to manifest itself in physical symptoms (e.g. vomiting, sleeplessness) before damages will be allowed.

If you have been injured on vacation, call Scott Fegley at the Fegley Law Firm, (215) 493-8287 or by email at scott@fegleylaw.com. Mr. Fegley has 30 years of accident litigation experience. We Give You Peace of Mind.

outdoor injury attorney

Who Is Liable for Outdoor Injuries?

Summer is upon us! Time for hiking, swimming, climbing and enjoying the great outdoors! However, these seasonal activities, like any other outdoor activities, are not without risk. Serious injury can occur from diving in shallow water, hiking off marked trails, and failing to exercise caution outdoors.

In Pennsylvania, we have a law called the Recreational Use of Land and Water Act. The RULWA provides landowners immunity from lawsuits if they allow the general public access to their land for recreational purposes without a fee. The law was intended to encourage landowners not to post their lands with “No Trespassing” signs and enable fishermen, hunters, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts greater access to our open spaces. In general, landowners who allow access are given the same protection from liability as if they had posted “No Trespassing” signs. The landowner cannot be liable unless he actually knew of a hazard on his property and deliberately failed to take steps to correct it or warn about it.

Let’s look at some examples. A sledder walking across land to a snowy slope falls in a deep, uncovered well on the property. If the landowner (a) knew people walked on his land for recreational purposes, (b) knew about the well, and (c) failed to take steps to cover it or prevent someone from falling into it, the landowner may still be sued. The RULWA offers no protection in that circumstance. However, if the sledder, while sledding down the hill, loses control or strikes a tree and suffers a head injury, the landowner will not be liable.

Landowners may also rely on a doctrine called “assumption of the risk.” Those of us who enjoy outdoor activities are assumed to know the risks inherent in the activity and assume the risk of being injured while participating.   However, the doctrine generally affords protection to landowners only for known or expected risks such as collisions with natural objects.

Before engaging in outdoor activity, it is always important to be familiar with the area and to observe signs and marked trails. Enjoying the sport safely is far more important and worthwhile than trying to figure out who’s at fault after an injury occurs.

If you have any questions regarding possible exposure as a landowner or if you sustained an injury due to someone else’ fault, call Scott Fegley at the Fegley Law Firm, in Yardley, PA at (215) 493-8287 or email us as scott@fegleylaw.com.

Cruise Crisis Creates Complicated Legal Issues

No doubt there will be lawsuits arising from the recent disastrous experience of vacationers aboard the Carnival Cruise Lines Triumph.  But bringing a lawsuit against a cruise line for injuries or damages occurring on board is not as simple as you might think.

When you purchase a cruise line ticket, you are probably thinking about all the fun you will have and not what can go wrong.  In the fine print of your ticket, however, cruise lines insert language that limits your opportunity to sue them.  The ticket language is a contract that you agree to when you purchase the ticket and courts generally enforce it.

First, cruise lines almost always reduce the time you have to bring a lawsuit to one year instead of the two years most states allow for filing of injury lawsuits.  If a passenger fails to act promptly, he or she may lose the ability to sue.  Second, cruise lines usually insert a “forum selection clause.” This clause requires passengers to sue the cruise line in the court of its own choosing, generally a location where the law is more favorable to the cruise line.

In Seung v. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Inc., the injured passenger, an elderly resident of California, filed suit against the cruise line in Florida.  However, the cruise line’s forum selection clause required any legal action against the company occurring on a cruise that did not include a U.S. port to be brought in Paris, France.  Unfortunately, the woman’s cruise took place in the Polynesian Islands.  The Florida federal court dismissed the case.  It ruled that the age and physical condition of the passenger was not a valid reason to strike the forum selection clause as unduly harsh.  The court ruled the woman did not have to take the cruise and may have benefitted from a lower fare by virtue of less legal exposure to the company in French courts.

Third, cruise lines may insert a “choice of law” clause in the ticket language.  While the “forum selection clause” controls where a lawsuit may be filed, the “choice of law clause” controls which country’s law may apply.  The choice of law clause may have a huge impact on the amount of money an injured passenger can recover.  For example, if a Liberian flagged cruise ship operating out of a U.S. port imposes Liberian law instead of U.S. admiralty law, a passenger’s damages may be limited to $70,000.00.  And even U.S. admiralty law is not as favorable to a passenger’s recovery as traditional state tort law is.

Fortunately, for Carnival Triumph passengers who embarked in Galveston, Texas, they will be able to sue Carnival in the federal court for the Southern District of Florida.  Passengers may recover for any physical injuries causally connected to the ship’s loss of power.  Those who simply suffered from frayed nerves and exasperation will have a more difficult time.  While they no doubt suffered from emotional distress, admiralty law requires emotional distress to manifest itself in physical symptoms (e.g. vomiting, sleeplessness) before damages will be allowed.

If you have been injured on vacation, call our Yardley, PA office at (215) 493-8287.