For the last 100 years, medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors, other medical staff and cruise lines have been repeatedly thrown out of court. The theory behind the rulings has been that cruise ship passengers couldn’t expect to get the same type of care on a cruise ship that they would receive on land.
However, a ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court in a recent medical negligence case against Royal Caribbean will allow the case to move forward. The victim in this case was an 82-year-old man who slipped and fell getting off the ship for a sightseeing excursion in Bermuda. The elderly man struck his head and went to the infirmary. The nurse examined the man, but said that he should go get some rest in his cabin. Several hours later, a doctor discovered that the man had suffered a brain injury that would eventually cause his death a few days later.
The three-judge panel in the 11th Circuit Court said that the doctor and nurse on the cruise ship wore uniforms and that the medical center on the ship were described as “glowing” in the ship’s promotional material. Some of the cruise ships even have intensive care units, labs and live video conferences to discuss patient care.
One circuit judge said, “We can discern no sound reason in law to carve out a special exemption for all acts of onboard medical negligence.”
If you are injured while on a cruise, don’t automatically assume that you have no recourse. An experienced attorney can provide you with more information on this ruling and will watch closely as the case continues.
Source: ctpost.com, “Ruling opens door for cruise malpractice lawsuits” Curt Anderson, AP, Dec. 23, 2014