When taking a trip on a cruise ship, you don't imagine that an injury might occur. As is the case in virtually all human activities, though, there's a chance you might get hurt. While it's understandable that some risks exist, the cruise ship operator does have a legal responsibility to ensure passenger safety within reason. That leads to the question, "What do you do if you get hurt on a cruise ship?"

The Absolute First Step Is to Document Everything

A cruise ship injury lawyer needs documentation to work with. If you have a slip and fall accident near the pool, for example, use your phone to take pictures of the scene. No detail is too small, so don't hesitate to capture the scene from multiple angles. Ask anyone who was a witness to what happened for their names. Make sure you get contact information because folks on cruises will disperse very quickly. Get phone numbers, addresses, and social media accounts so you can help your cruise ship accident lawyer reach out to them.

You should also collect all agreement and contract information from the cruise line. In addition to saving copies of the agreement from the cruise line's website, you should also make copies of any forms you signed. Keep and make copies of your tickets, too, as there is often agreement information on them.

The Issue of Venue

Most cruise lines have venue clauses in their contracts, and these frequently outline that all cases arising from trips will be litigated in a specific state. The agreements frequently indicate Florida because many lines are based out of Miami. Also, this can create inconvenience for folks who have to file paperwork with courts in the state and may even have to travel there for hearings. It's a good idea to retain the counsel of a cruise ship injury lawyer from the state of venue in the contract to reduce your travel demands.

Determining Liability

Cruise ship accident cases are generally adjudicated under maritime law. When advancing a claim, the core question that has to be answered is whether a "reasonably careful ship operator" should have known about a hazard and addressed it. Witness testimony may establish when something like a cracked rail was noticed and reported. Similarly, your attorney may be able to use the discovery process to track maintenance records and reports involving the same ship from different time periods.