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Carnival Cruise Ship Passenger Cleared from Ebola

Written by admin on . Posted in Cruise Ship Accidents, Personal Injury News and Safety Resources

Panic about Ebola is spreading far more rapidly than the disease. This week one of the lab technicians who came into contact with specimens taken from Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan before he died at a Texas hospital was permitted to board a Carnival cruise ship that set sail from Dallas (Galveston) to Belize on October 12.

Sometime after the Carnival Magic set sail, news surfaced that two nurses, Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, had tested positive for Ebola after treating Mr. Duncan at a Dallas hospital –an announcement that led the CDC to issue an active-monitoring requirement.

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Meanwhile, the passenger aboard the Carnival Magic had begun a self-imposed quarantine in her cabin. The entire ship was denied entry into the port of Belize and was also not permitted to enter Cozumel, Mexico.  Blood tests were taken during the cruise and airlifted by United States Coast Guard helicopter.

According to a statement released by the Galveston Health Authority, the sample taken was negative for Ebola, which is great news for all the passengers.  Carnival is currently cleaning the Magic and intends to have it back in service this week.

Questions have arisen as to how the cruise industry and Carnival in particular are prepared to handle a potential Ebola outbreak at sea.  As a lawyer who sues cruise companies, I have investigated hundreds of accidents on board cruise ships for nearly 25 years, and I am very concerned. In view of the general difficulties ships have had in containing the spread of the Norovirus (Norwalk virus), an Ebola outbreak could be devastating on board an ocean liner. A cruise line could face legal liability for failing to have in place an outbreak protocol to isolate and contain the spread of Ebola.  I recommend that the cruise industry also follow and implement the recently revised CDC Ebola guidelines for healthcare workers in all ship hospitals and infirmaries.

The Norwalk virus is one of the most common causes of acute gastroenteritis (infection of the stomach and intestines) and spreads easily onboard cruise ships because the symptoms are often misdiagnosed as simple stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis.  It is spread by infected passengers, or by contaminated food or drinks prepared by infected crew members. One of the reasons the Norwalk virus is particularly difficult to contain is that it survives on contaminated surfaces such as buffet counters, door handles, and elevator buttons.

If you have suffered an accident while on a cruise, I recommend that you consult with an experienced maritime attorney.  Our office offers cruise ship passengers free initial legal consultations to help them understand their legal rights after they have slipped, tripped, or fallen on board a cruise.  Call us today at 1-866-597-4529 or email because most cruise companies require that within one year of the date of incident claims be filed in Miami, regardless of where in the world the incident may have occurred.


How Can Mediation Help Your Case?

Written by admin on . Posted in Cruise Ship Accidents

My name is Missiva Khacer; I am a licensed attorney in France and a recent graduate from Saint Thomas University School of Law. On Friday October 3, I was invited by Spencer Aronfeld, a Miami cruise ship passenger accident lawyer, to observe a mediation between an injured passenger “Plaintiff” represented by Aronfeld, who is a personal injury attorney who focuses on international maritime cases and the defendant, one of the world’s largest cruise ship lines. Due to the confidentiality of the process, I will neither disclose the parties’ name nor the details of the settlement discussions that occurred during the mediation.

What is Mediation

Many of you may wonder what is a mediation. According to the Online Legal Dictionary, mediation is defined as “the attempt to settle a legal dispute through active participation of a third party, called a mediator, who works to find points of agreement and make those in conflict agree on a fair result.” Legal definitions can sometimes be fancy or hard to comprehend; the best way for one to understand this crucial legal process is to share with you my personal experience and observation during the “mediation”.

Ms. Plaintiff was injured on a cruise ship, and flew all the way from Virginia to Aronfeld’s Coral Gables office in order to mediate her case with the opposing party’s counsel. Ms. Plaintiff claimed that she was severely injured and had to undergo knee surgery as a result of her injury. What I learned from being part of that process, is that the purpose of mediation is to help opposing parties communicate with one another, to understand each other and if possible to reach an agreement that satisfies everyone’s needs. For Ms. Plaintiff, it was an alternative to going to trial that not only saved her time but also the high cost and long delays associated with the trial of civil matters. In mediation there is no third party, such as a judge or jury that will make decisions; the parties involved make the agreements. In France, the process is completely different and we do not have this mechanism in personal injury cases.

The Role of Mediation in a Case

The mediator was Mrs. Barbara Locke, the impartial third party in this case. Her job was to help get the case settled and give her feedback to the parties if asked. Ms. Locke focused on the damages because in Ms. Plaintiff’s case the main dispute was damages. Unlike many cases, both parties had no doubt as to what caused Ms. Plaintiff’s injury. The mediator started the mediation by introducing all the parties and talking about the confidential process of mediation. Then she let both sides explain their side of the case, without interruption. After this step was completed and both sides argued their strengths and minimized their weakness; Mrs. Locke took the opposing party into a private office and returned to talk to Mr. Spencer Aronfeld and Ms. Plaintiff in more detail. At this point, the mediator’s job was to go back and forth from one party to the other and try to get the parties to negotiate the case to reach a settlement.

Ms. Plaintiff’ s attorney, Spencer Aronfeld Esquire, who has over 25 years experience in litigating cases, took his client to a private office where he communicated Ms. Plaintiff with the opposing party’s offer. Mr. Aronfeld explained to Ms. Plaintiff the advantage of settling the case and the potential risk of going to trial, how a jury would likely judge her case, which is the most important factor in making an intelligent determination of whether to settle a case or not, and what to settle for. Throughout the mediation process, Ms. Plaintiff remained an active participant and has real power in effecting an acceptable outcome. In fact, Mr. Aronfeld emphasized to Ms. Plaintiff that she was the one with the power to settle or not to settle the lawsuit. I believe that plaintiff’s power at mediation is greater than at trial, where the plaintiff will be subjected to cross-examination and judged by a panel of complete strangers whose verdict is impossible to predict. Ms. Plaintiff decided to settle her case and left Aronfeld’s Law Firm office satisfied with the result. Through the mediation process, and reaching a settlement, Ms. Plaintiff was able to not only take control of her case but also to find a sense of closure and move on with her life.


Cruise Ship Accident Claims

Written by admin on . Posted in Cruise Ship Accidents

Understanding and Evaluating Cruise Ship Accident Claims

Every day our cruise ship accident claims lawyers in Miami investigate an incident involving a passenger injury that occurred on a Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, or Norwegian vessel, where the person was hurt by slipping or falling during the cruise.

After suing cruise lines for nearly 25 years, I have learned that a number of facts are not only common to most cases but also important in evaluating how much a passenger injury claim is worth.

Common Cruise Ship Slip and Fall Accident Facts

Typically, a passenger gets hurt on a sea day–that is, a day when the ship is not in a port but rather moving in the open sea between ports. Often the claimants state that they were simply walking on the ship, in the buffet area, pool, or going between decks on one of the staircases when suddenly, without warning, they fell and were injured.

bone fracture that can be used in a cruise ship accident claim

The most common injury we encounter is a broken arm, specifically the humerus bone, which seems to snap at the upper end, known as the surgical neck of the humerus. Those types of fractures often involve nerve damage and can be extraordinarily painful, frequently requiring surgery.

Why Falling On a Cruise Ship Is Not Necessarily A Case

Simply falling aboard a cruise ship does not mean that one is automatically entitled to receive money. That is because the most important factor in proving a case against a cruise ship is determining what the cruise line did wrong that “caused” or “contributed to” the incident. Therefore, when I investigate a potential Carnival cruise ship accident claim, the first question I always ask is, “What did the cruise line do wrong that caused the accident?”

It is not that I am not interested in knowing about the poor care the claimant received from the ship’s medical facility or how bad the food was in the buffet–but those simply are not issues that are relevant to proving a personal injury case against a cruise line like Carnival.

Unfortunately, many of the people who get hurt on cruise ships simply have no idea why they fell.

“Mrs. Smith, was the floor wet?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Was the floor slippery?”

“It must have been.”

“Yes, I am sure it must have been, but in a court case like yours, must-have-been’s are not sufficient. In fact the cruise line will try to get your entire case dismissed unless we can prove that your fall was their fault and not just it-must-have-been.”

And so a long period of time is spent unraveling the facts and witnesses in hopes of proving how a particular fall occurred. And when we cannot establish that cause, then a determination is made that we may not be able to get the injured person the full extent of compensation, i.e. money he or she might otherwise be entitled to.

Understanding Your Fall — CCTV

The most important element of evidence in understanding how and why a passenger was injured is often found in the ship’s closed circuit television system (CCTV) or surveillance video. However, in my experience as a lawyer who pursues cruise ship accident claims, most cruise lines claim there is no CCTV of an incident, unless they believe the footage will be helpful to their defense.

The first thing I do is ask for the CCTV footage every time–not just of the incident but also of the passenger being taken to and from the ship’s hospital, and even getting on and off the ship. In nearly 25 years of representing the injured, I have been provided that CCTV footage only a handful of times. And each time, the cruise line’s lawyer believes that whatever is contained on the video is favorable to the defense.

CCTV is not just crucial to proving that the fall actually occurred but to showing why. Therefore, we want to obtain the video of the hours and days of the location to show, for instance, how often the deck was inspected, maintained, repaired as well as how long any “transient substance” such as water, grease, or oil was left without being cleaned.

Weather Conditions–A Factor In Cruise Ship Accident Claims

The weather plays a significant role in a ship’s stability, a condition which may contribute to a passenger’s fall. Therefore, we have to determine the wind and wave conditions, which are much like the effects of turbulence on an airplane and are valuable in assessing factors that could have contributed to a fall. We work closely with maritime experts to read the ship’s data to prove that effect.

Earlier this year, a passenger aboard the MS Marco Polo–owned by Cruise & Maritime Voyages, a British-based cruise line–was killed after the ship was hit by a “freak wave during adverse sea conditions” in the English Channel.

If you have been hurt during a cruise, I am available to help you investigate and evaluate your potential claim. Currently we are representing passengers injured on Carnival, Royal Caribbean (RCCL), Celebrity, Disney, and Holland America Cruises. Please contact me today at 1-866-597-4529 for a free initial consultation. Most cruise lines have a six-month-notice requirement, with a one-year statute of limitations to file an actual lawsuit. We have had success in obtaining extensions of the statute of limitations, and we sue cruise lines like Carnival nearly every day. Let our experience in an out of the courtroom help you.