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New Cayman Islands Port Expected To Begin Construction October 2015

Written by Spencer Aronfeld on . Posted in Cruise Ship Accidents

The Cayman Islands will owe a huge debt to the world’s largest cruise line, Carnival, as its government finally announced that the country will go forward with a very controversial plan to build cruise ship piers in George Town harbor.  The move will unquestionably help secure the Caymans as a major player in the cruise ship industry and probably rescue the Islands’ struggling economy.

As I reported earlier this summer, the Caymans have been trying for decades to balance maintaining their pristine marine life with meeting the growing competition from neighboring Caribbean ports, like Jamaica and Cuba, by forcing large cruise ships to ferry passengers on tenders in and out of Georgetown.  Tendering passengers is time-consuming, expensive, and on occasion dangerous.   We have represented a number of passengers who have been injured trying to get on and off tender boats in various ports around the world, including Grand Cayman.

Cayman’s Premier Alden McLaughlin announced Wednesday that Carnival will play a substantial role in the development of the new piers that are expected to cost at least $150 million to build.  Having Carnival’s “skin in the game” will surely guarantee that future Carnival ships and their passengers will continue to dock in Grand Cayman.   Currently, Carnival accounts for roughly 60% of cruise ships visiting Cayman.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is the other major player in Cayman’s cruise industry, but has not released any official statement regarding the announcement or its plans to participate in the costs of building the ports.

The Caymanian Cabinet has yet to formally ratify the decision to proceed with the port project, but this is anticipated to occur sometime in October 2015.  The Caymans intend to charge around $5 per passenger, and a share of the $14 “head tax” collected by the Port Authority on every cruise passenger who comes through the new terminal.

As a cruise ship passenger injury attorney, I applaud the Cayman Islands’ decision finally to approve the building of the ports, primarily because I believe the ports will provide a much needed safer way to transport passengers to and from the ships.  The concept of loading and unloading passengers on bobbing and bumpy small tender boats was a recipe for disaster that often prevented elderly and incapacitated passengers from even attempting to disembark in ports such as George Town.

Typically when we investigated a claim for an injury that occurred on a tender boat, the cruise lines would try to defend the claim by stating that the tenders were operated by local independent contractors over which the cruise line did not have control.

We have also heard horror stories of elderly terrified passengers left behind by their cruise ships in foreign countries, in various hospitals, or in emergency rooms seeking medical care.  We have received many calls from passengers who have found themselves alone with no means of returning home, their possessions gone, and no help offered by the cruise line in terms of booking flights or transportation.  I think this move at a minimum will help minimize tender boat accidents as well as allow more people to get on and off the ship safely and comfortably.

I suggest that the new Grand Cayman Islands port, as well as George Town, be made compliant with all ADA requirements so that passengers in wheelchairs and with other assistive devices, like motorized scooters, can explore the Island safely.


Our maritime personal injury law firm has aggressively and successfully represented passengers who have been injured while on cruises around the world.  Most cruise lines–including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian–require that personal injury claims be filed against them, within one year of the date of incident, in Miami’s Federal Court, regardless of where in the world the accident occurred.

If you have been injured on a cruise, we recommend that you contact our office immediately for a free initial legal consultation.  We offer consultations Toll Free at 1-866-597-4529, by email at, or by SKYPE.  Call us today.


How Can I Sue a Cruise Line For a Personal Injury?

Written by Spencer Aronfeld on . Posted in Cruise Ship Accidents, Personal Injury News and Safety Resources, Slip and Fall/Premises Liability

Our cruise ship accident lawyers investigate dozens of potential claims every day from passengers around the world.  Perhaps the most common question we are asked is, “What is my case worth?”

Every cruise ship accident case is different, based upon what I believe are the three most crucial facts

  • What did the cruise line do wrong?
  • Did what they did wrong cause or contribute to an injury or damage?
  • What damage or injury did the cruise ship’s wrongful act or conduct cause?

Once I have the answers to the questions above, the next question is, “How can I prove it?”

For example, perhaps the most common potential case we look at involves a passenger slipping, tripping, or falling while on a cruise ship.  It happens; people get hurt on cruises.  People fall on cruises, but in order for the cruise line to be held accountable to pay a passenger money for pain and suffering and to reimburse her for medical expenses, the fall must be deemed to be the cruise line’s provable fault.

“Provable” is the key element here. For example, a person slips and falls and breaks an arm while on a Carnival cruise ship; the most important facts that would have to be proved in order to have a viable claim pertain to why the person fell and how it was the cruise line’s fault.

Unfortunately, many times when people fall, they have no idea why they fell.  They were simply walking, and the next thing they knew was that they found themselves flat on their backs, in excruciating pain.  Their thoughts were not on lawsuits and lawyers, but rather on their pain and seeking medical care.

People are surprised to learn that falling and getting hurt on a cruise ship does not automatically entitle a passenger with the legal right to receive money from the cruise line.  Rather, only claims that can be proved to be the fault of the cruise line do so.   It is important to note that the cruise line does not have to be entirely at fault, but rather at least some part in fault.

Returning to the common cruise ship slip and fall, the question then becomes what was the cause of the fall and did the cruise line either know about the danger or cause the problem.   If there was water, oil, or other liquid on the floor, we would have to prove that the cruise line either knew about it, should have known about it, or caused the liquid to be on the floor.

Sometimes it is easy, if we can trace the source of the water–like a leaking ice box, or dripping coffee maker–but other times, when the passenger has no idea how long the substance was on the floor or where it came from, the case becomes very weak and perhaps impossible to prove.  This is why obtaining the Closed Circuit TV footage of an accident scene is crucially important.


Our advice to anyone who gets hurt while on a cruise ship is to try to figure out how and why the fall occurred.  Whenever possible, take photographs or video of the scene.  Take a few minutes and jot down notes of what you remember about the fall, such as did you smell cleaning solvents, were your clothes wet or hands sticky.  All of those seemingly irrelevant factors, when taken together, can prove enormously valuable to our ability to help injured cruise ship passengers obtain reasonable compensation for their accident claims.


If you have been hurt while on a Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, Disney, Holland America, Silverseas, MSC, or Disney cruise, and are seeking assistance to sue a cruise line, we recommend you contact an experienced maritime accident lawyer immediately–before you speak with or sign anything from the cruise line.   Cruise lines hire very aggressive and highly qualified lawyers to defend them; injured passengers deserve the best possible representation, too.

Call our office today for a free initial legal consultation, at 1-866-597-4529 and allow our combined experience of nearly 50 years help you hold the cruise lines accountable when and if they put their profits ahead of passenger safety.  Speak to a lawyer who knows how to prove your case and obtain the compensation you deserve for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost cruise, and wages.


Woman In Critical Condition After Hard Fall On Carnival Cruise

Written by Spencer Aronfeld on . Posted in Cruise Ship Accidents, Personal Injury News and Safety Resources, Slip and Fall/Premises Liability

On September 11th, a serious accident occurred at sea for twenty-four-year-old Christina Ricci.  The New Hampshire resident suffered a hard fall on Carnival Cruise, Victory. It has been reported that she fell, hitting her head hard on the deck, on the second day of the Victory’s cruise.  Ms. Ricci, on vacation with her boyfriend, was airlifted off the ship (“medically disembarked”) and taken to a Miami hospital, where she has since reportedly suffered a number of strokes and is listed in critical condition.

According to media reports, her friends do not know whether or not she will ever be able to talk or walk again.  The family, in an effort to help finance her medical expenses, has started a website in Florida seeking contributions at GoFundMe , and has already raised nearly $6,000 in two days.

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As of today, we do not represent Ms. Ricci, but if we did, one of the very first things we would do is to stop the family from engaging in dialogue with Carnival until we were able to investigate and discover exactly how the incident happened.   It is important to note that not all falls and accidents on cruises are the fault of the cruise line. Apparently, the hospital and Carnival are working together to figure out how the fall occurred.  Our cruise ship accident law firm wishes Ms. Ricci a speedy and total recovery.


We investigate hundreds of slip, trip, and fall accidents suffered by people on cruises every year.Often the people know why they fell, e.g., a slippery floor, grease on the deck, or they tripped over one of the multiple thresholds that cruise ships have, particularly those that are found entering the cabin bathrooms.  However, sometimes the injured parties have little or no idea why they fell. They often simply wake up, finding themselves on the floor with a broken bone in agonizing pain, or they wake up in the ship’s hospital.  It is understandable that when people fall and are seriously hurt, the last thing on their minds is analyzing why the fall occurred; rather, the entire focus is in seeking medical care.

It is entirely different for most cruise lines. Certainly, they are going to make sure that a passenger who tripped, slipped, or fell on a cruise ship gets some sort of medical evaluation, but I have found that they are more concerned with finding out why the fall occurred, and not really for the reason one might think.


The primary reaction is not determination to discover the root cause of the fall, such as was there adequate warning signage, or where and how the “water or oil” got on the deck, but to start building the defense against the potential and probably inevitable claim that the passenger and her lawyers may make against the cruise line for personal injuries.

For example, almost every Carnival claim I have investigated, in nearly 25 years of suing cruise lines, has a “security officer” bringing the injured party back to the scene of the fall, often directly from the ship’s hospital, and having that person try to explain and often “reenact” the incident.  They also interview various witnesses, usually fellow passengers, family members, and crew, to collect additional information.  In the meantime, the ship’s nurses and doctors are trained to ask a series of questions also directed not at the patient’s health but more in a claims-adjusting capacity to determine if the passenger had been drinking, taking drugs, or had previously been injured or fallen.   The passenger is given several documents to fill out in addition to the medical questionnaire, all designed to help the cruise lines defend the claim later on.

I have often said that the most powerful weapon the cruise lines have to defend passenger injury and accident claims is the “Passenger Injury Statement Form,” which is usually provided to passengers in the moments after a fall, and requires them to “briefly describe” how the accident happened and what could have been done to avoid it.  And then sign it. Most passengers have no idea that the wording of their answer can and will be used against them later on in court.  The slightest variation in the description of how and why the fall occurred will be used to impeach their testimony and credibility.

I believe that the Passenger Injury Statement Form should contain a warning to alert passengers that the document has enormous legal implications and should not be filled out or signed without the assistance of an experienced maritime accident attorney.


In order for there to be a viable cruise ship accident case, the cruise line does not have to be entirely at fault.  In fact, in most instances both the claimant and the cruise line share some degree of responsibility.  For example, if someone trips over a threshold, we might argue that the raised threshold did not have clear enough markings or warnings.  The cruise line would argue that it was “open and obvious” and that the passenger was herself careless for not having seen it.

When both the passenger and cruise ship share in the responsibility for causing the accident, the total amount of damages is then divided according to the amount of responsibility.  For example, if the total amount of a particular claim is $100,000 (medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, future medical expenses, lost cruise) and the ship and passenger are equally responsible for the fall, then the passenger’s net settlement or verdict  amount would be $50,000.

Another example would be the ship is 20% responsible and the passenger is 80% responsible.  The net settlement amount or the passenger would therefore be only $20,000.

Determining both the amount of the settlement and what percentage (if any) is the passenger’s fault versus the cruise ship’s is not a science, but rather an art based upon the specific facts of each case, including many factors such as the age and demographics of the passenger, and the degree of carelessness of the cruise line along with how, when, and why the accident occurred.

Our lawyers have successfully sued Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity, MSC, Princess, Holland America, Seabourn, Disney, and Silverseas on behalf of people who have suffered serious injuries as passengers onboard their ships.  We are passionate about holding cruise lines accountable when they put their profits ahead of safety.  We provide free initial legal consultations to passengers around the world via TOLL FREE telephone at 1-866-597-4529, by email at, or SKYPE.  Contact us today, before you speak to the cruise line, and allow us to help you maximize your claim and protect your legal rights.