Cruise Ship Accident Law

Cruise Ship Accident Law can be a very complex area of practice. These laws deal with a wide range of legal issues including passenger safety, ship worthiness, security, ports of call, the law of the seas, environmental regulations, and many more. These laws may derive from state, federal, or international sources.

Personal Injury

One of the biggest areas of cruise ship accident law is in the personal injury claim. Passengers can be injured in a variety of ways aboard a cruise ship, from food or alcohol poisoning, to slipping and falling, to intentional torts like battery resulting from a fist fight. These claims are virtually as diverse as the ones available to litigants for injuries resulting on land. However, when the accidents occur on a cruise ship, a number of other legal considerations may be triggered. For example, whether the incident occurred in international waters and, if so, which nation's laws will apply to the claim?

Environmental Concerns

Cruise ships are also huge environmental concerns. From the treatment of waste to the impact a cruise ship has when it is involved in an accident such as running aground, the environmental damage a cruise ship accident may cause can be devastating. As a result, a wide array of laws and international agreements exist pertaining to the handling of cruise ship accidents from an environmental standpoint, both to prevent such accidents and to mitigate the damage they can cause. Claims for the environmental consequences of a cruise ship accident can extend well beyond the local property owners to others whose livelihood's may be impacted by the damage, such as fishermen, tour industries, and others.

Choice of Laws and Venues

One of the first issues to confront after a cruise ship accident is figuring out which laws apply to the incident. Will it be the laws of the waters where the accident occurred, of the nationality of the vessel, of the persons injured, or of the port of origin? Aside from the national laws that apply, the types of laws may vary, as well. For example, in many instances, specific maritime laws apply to these accidents, even though there would be analogous laws from other areas of practice had the incident occurred on land.

Many cruise lines contractually select the laws and venues to apply to any accident, usually choosing the location of the corporate headquarters of the cruise line. Often, the laws of the location the cruise line chooses will heavily favor the cruise company over the passenger.


Cruise ship lines have a responsibility to make sure there are no hazardous conditions on a ship that can cause injury to its passengers, including not just things like tripping hazards but also dangerous people. This means cruise ships are required to provide adequate security measures to protect passengers from crew members, other passengers, and even those who might board the vessel, like pirates. Cruise lines are required to provide their crew with adequate training on how to handle these various situations, and if they do not, passengers and crew alike may have bases for legal action against the company.

Jones Act

When one thinks about cruise ship cases, it is easy to forget about the crew members and focus solely on the passengers. But, the people most likely to be exposed to danger on a cruise ship are actually the crew. The Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.§ 30104, is a U.S. federal statute pertaining to the compensation of injured crew members. Jones Act claims are strictly construed from the statute and, as such, can be quite complex and difficult to prosecute. Beyond the Jones Act, however, general maritime laws also provide some remedies for injured crew members for things like un-seaworthy conditions aboard the ship. However, maritime laws historically tend to favor ship owners over crew members.

For more information about Cruise Ship Accidents, please visit the links below or click on the “Law Firms” tab on the menu bar, above, to find a list of attorneys in your area that can help you with your questions or legal matters.


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Articles on Related to Cruise Ship Accident Law

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    Maritime law, already one of the most complex areas of American law, presents particular challenges in the context of a wrongful death at sea.
  • How to Get the Most Out of Your Initial Personal Injury Consultation
    In the aftermath of an accident caused by someone else, you could be facing life disrupting injuries rendering you unable to work. The medical expenses you may incur could also be significant. Once you decide to seek legal representation to deal with this situation, it's critical to the success of your case to find the lawyer who can offer the most helpful support.
  • Cruise Ships and Liability
    Cruise ships sail in the open water to various destinations. If an accident occurs onboard that causes injury, it may become difficult to know who is responsible. When in another country, the guilty party becomes even more difficult to determine.
  • What if you Get in a Crash while on Vacation?
    Summer travel is one of our country's favorite activities. With nearly 60% of Americans planning to travel more than 100 miles from home, it's no surprise that once in a while, we'll get a call. Accidents happen. Even on vacation.
  • Cruise Ship Injury During a Shore Excursion: Who is Responsible?
    Cruise Ship companies, such as Holland America, can be held liable for injuries that occur during shore excursions.
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  • Sick or Injured After a Cruise, What Can I Do?
    A cruise vacation is supposed to be a relaxing, enjoyable experience. But, they do not always end that way. An increasing number of passengers in recent years have experienced illness or injuries while on their vacation. Often, this has been the fault of the cruise line, itself. If this happens, what can you do?
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    A vacation aboard a cruise ship can be a memorable experience, an affordable, all-inclusive vacation option, and a great way to see exotic ports of call. But, what happens when something goes wrong and your memories end up being of sickness, injury, inadequate medical care, fire, being stranded, crime, or even the wrongful death of a loved one?
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    Perhaps one of the most prolific – and horrendous – cruise ship accidents in recent memory was the January 2012 sinking of the Costa Concordia. When the ship ran aground off the cost of Italy, 4,200 passengers and crew members were forced to evacuate. Unfortunately, dozens of passengers were injured and a yet-still-unknown number killed.
  • All Admiralty and Maritime Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Admiralty and Maritime including: boating, cruise and commercial ship accidents, Jones Act and ship registration.

Cruise Ship Accident Law - US

  • ABA - Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee

    The Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee of TIPS is the only organized ABA group devoted to the study and practice of admiralty and maritime law.

  • Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act 2010

    Introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and in the House by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), the act provides for a number of upgrades to improve the security infrastructure of cruise vessels, mandates training of cruise ship personnel in various aspects of crime prevention and evidence preservation, and creates a reporting structure whereby cruise lines are required to report certain categories of onboard crime to the FBI and U.S. Coast Guard.

  • Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA)

    The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) is designed to protect the nation’s ports and waterways from a terrorist attack. This law is the U.S. equivalent of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS), and was fully implemented on July 1, 2004. It requires vessels and port facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and develop security plans that may include passenger, vehicle and baggage screening procedures; security patrols; establishing restricted areas; personnel identification procedures; access control measures; and/or installation of surveillance equipment. By creating a consistent security program for all our nation’s ports, we are better able to identify and deter threats.

  • National Transportation Safety Board - Marine Division

    The NTSB investigates major marine accidents on navigable waters of the United States, involving U.S. merchant vessels in international waters, and collisions involving U.S. public and nonpublic vessels. In addition, it investigates selected marine accidents that involve public transportation or those of a recurring nature.

  • Passenger Vessel Safety Program - USCG

    The objective of the program is to enable the response community (U.S. Coast Guard, other Federal, State, and local agencies, as well as industry and other stake holders) to have processes and procedures to prevent, or if necessary, to respond to and mitigate a passenger vessel emergency, taking in account all available resources.

  • United States Coast Guard

    The United States Coast Guard is a military, multimission, maritime service within the Department of Homeland Security and one of the nation's five armed services. Its core roles are to protect the public, the environment, and U.S. economic and security interests in any maritime region in which those interests may be at risk, including international waters and America's coasts, ports, and inland waterways.

Cruise Ship Accident Law - International

  • Cruise Lines International Association

    Cruise Lines International Association is the world’s largest cruise association and is dedicated to the promotion and growth of the cruise industry. CLIA is composed of 25 of the major cruise lines serving North America and is an organization that operates pursuant to an agreement filed with the Federal Maritime Commission under the Shipping Act of 1984 and serves as a non-governmental consultative organization to the International Maritime Organization, an agency of the United Nations.

  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)

    The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships. The first version was adopted in 1914, in response to the Titanic disaster, the second in 1929, the third in 1948, and the fourth in 1960.

  • International Maritime Organization (IMO)

    The Convention establishing the International Maritime Organization (IMO) was adopted in Geneva in 1948 and IMO first met in 1959. IMO's main task has been to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.

Organizations Related to Cruise Ship Accident Law

  • Cruise Bruise

    Cruise Bruise is a privately owned, family-run website, focused on incidents that take place in the cruise industry, including port-of-calls. It is the cornerstone of the i-Hug network. Cases and news on this site cover from the time a passenger books a cruise with a travel agent or online booking service to the time they arrive back home. A lot can happen during that time period, from travel agents who take the money and run to not being able to board due to Homeland Security law, right down to arriving home without the luggage. If it happened in the course of planning or taking a cruise, you might find it on Cruise Bruise.

  • Cruise S.O.S.

    When you and your family are on a cruise ship, you are no longer in America and you are no longer protected by American Law, but you still have rights that must be respected. While the shipping companies may not be governed by American laws at sea, they are still governed by a duty to provide reasonable care for their passengers. That means if the cruise line (or its employees) harms you or treats you unreasonably and/or an unreasonable condition on the ship, or causes you or your family to be injured, then you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Furthermore, if a crime is committed against you or your family, the Cruise S.O.S. card lays out the steps you must take in order to protect your rights.

  • International Cruise Victims Association

    International Cruise Victims Association (ICV) represents victims of crime on cruise ships, their families and friends, and individuals concerned about the problems of victimization and disappearances on cruise ships. With several hundred members, the organization advocates for legislative reform to protect passengers from crimes and increase the rights of victims of crimes that do occur on cruise ships, and provides support to victims of crimes occurring on cruise ships.

  • ITF - Cruise Ships and Passenger Safety

    If you work on cruise ships or passenger vehicles, you also need to take the safety of passengers into account. ITF has specific policy advice for best practice in ensuring the safety of yourself, your crewmates and your passengers. See the link on the right of this page for more information.

  • Passenger Vessel Association

    The Passenger Vessel Association focuses on the issues and concerns most relevant to owners and operators of passenger vessels, manufacturers of maritime-related products and services and other service companies dedicated to achieving a common goal...working to develop a superior business environment for all.

Publications Related to Cruise Ship Accident Law

  • Cruise Law News

    Jim Walker is a nationally recognized attorney involved in admiralty and maritime personal injury law. He has been involved in maritime litigation since 1983. Based in Miami, Florida, Jim represents passengers and crew members injured or assaulted on cruise ships.

  • Marine Log

    Marine Log is America's most respected marine industry monthly. It is dedicated to providing marine industry professionals with the information they need to enable them to design, build and operate vessels, rigs and offshore structures, profitably, safely, legally and in an environmentally responsible manner.

  • The Maritime Executive

    The Maritime Executive is the only vehicle so sharply focused to deliver essential information, news and reports from maritime decision makers to other maritime decision makers - an indispensable weapon in your arsenal for further business success in the marine industry.

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