Cruise Ships No Longer Exempt from Medical Malpractice Liability

Before 2014, many cruise companies that faced medical malpractice lawsuits were able to get these legal actions dismissed even before trial. Obviously, courts have always decided in their favor, exempting them from any legal responsibility (even if the medical team that these have on board fails to give patients the exact treatment they need) and telling patients that they should not demand from ships’ doctors and nurses the same level of medical care as on land; besides, ship doctors and nurses are beyond the direct control of cruise lines since they are private contractors.

This aura of immunity from medical malpractice is a result of decades of court decisions that have consistently acquitted cruise liners from medical negligence/liability. One case example, which cruise companies usually rely upon, is the 1988 Barbetta v. S.S. Bermuda Star lawsuit, wherein the court ruled that the duty of a carrier is to make sure that it employs a competent and duly qualified doctor; failure to do so would be violation of its duty. If the doctor hired, however, commits an act of (medical) negligence, then he or she alone, not the carrier, will be held accountable for such act.

A 2014 incident that occurred onboard one famous cruise ship led judges to reconsider the soundness of exempting cruise ships from any medical liability, considering the following facts: doctors and nurses are presented as ship personnel or employees and that their wearing of the cruise ship uniform is direct proof of this; today’s cruise ships have advanced laboratories, intensive care units and technologies which will easily enable their medical personnel to link with medical experts on shore through live video conferencing; and, cruise ships take pride in their onboard medical center, making sure that this is included in their promotional materials.

Fortunately, the only treatment required by most travellers is remedy for bruises, indigestion, sea sickness and sun burns. But, though safe from any serious medical condition, they will definitely not be safe from expensive infirmary bills, which most health plans do not cover, by the way. As regards those whose condition really needs emergency attention (like drowning, stroke, heart attack, allergic reactions and appendicitis) the major issue is that most likely they will not receive the treatment they need on time or, even if they would be treated, in many instances, treatment will be from the hands of those who lack training or who are more panicky than in control of what they are doing.

In its website, the Louis A. Vucci points out the unnecessary risk of injury suffered by many cruise passengers at the hands of members of a ship’s medical staff who lack training, especially for emergency situations, or who are not just capable of providing the standard of care that passengers are entitled to receive.

The laws governing cruise ship issues are much more complex than the laws governing land vehicles. There will always be a legal means for passengers who get injured during cruise vacations to get the compensation that they may be owed.

Seeking Compensation with the Help of an Attorney Can be an Advantage

A driver’s manual contains all the rules and regulations connected to driving, plus topics and images that clearly explain all about traffic signs and signals, safe vehicle operation, teens behind the wheel, accidents and emergency situations, and the various procedures involved in earning a driver’s license. All these are for the purpose of making sure that anyone applying for a license will know and will observe road safety rules after being granted the privilege to drive his or her own car.

A state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), called the Department of Public Safety or Registry of Motor Vehicles in other states, is the government entity responsible for the issuance of a driver’s license. Sadly, however, for despite the DMV’s required education, training, and tests (manual and written) which will show the worthiness of applicants to be granted their own license, knowledge on how to drive safely and the duty to properly observe traffic safety rules are almost immediately forgotten by many drivers. How else will one explain the more than five million car crashes recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) every year? Worse, more than two million of these crashes result to injuries, while at least 30,000 end in death.

Every year, more and more vehicles get driven on major roads and highways all across the nation. While some accidents are blamable on acts of nature (which many others now call “Act of God”) because these occur naturally devoid of human activity, such as a violent weather or an unexpected medical condition (Acts of God do not include known preexisting weather and medical conditions), more than 90% of all motor vehicle accidents are due to human fault – consequences of negligence or recklessness.

Speeding, drunk-driving, driver error and reckless driving are the top irresponsible acts or bad behaviors that cause road accidents. While certain actions, like driving after having a bottle or two of beer with colleagues after work, may be considered as lapse in judgment, some accidents, especially those resulting from reckless driving, are simply maddening since these are due to someone’s wanton disregard for the safety of others.

Driving on the wrong lane, beating or going through red lights, ignoring stop signs at intersections, not slowing down when making turns, tailgating, changing lanes abruptly or without using signals, driving over the speed limit and driving while intoxicated are just few of the reckless behaviors that some drivers knowingly or carelessly commit and which make roads no longer safe for other motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcycle riders.

What may be considered as reckless driving is not always specifically outlined by the law; thus, it is often left to the discretion of the officer involved if the driver at fault in an accident will be charged with reckless driving or with some other traffic violation.

As stated on the website of John Michael Bailey Injury Lawyers, “it can be difficult to avoid an accident with a reckless driver,” however, it can be much more difficult to prove that the at-fault driver drove recklessly and, after proving so, seek compensation for damages suffered by the victim.

Since the consequence of a car accident will definitely affect the life of the victim and his/her family, especially if it results to severe or disabling injuries or, worse, death, it can be wise to seek assistance from a seasoned personal injury lawyer.