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Bear Trap In An Ocean Wilderness: Suing A Cruise Line

"Sue the cruise line," is what he says craning forward to chomp on something while pressing a cocktail against his chest. "Going out in weather like that. What? There's something like 4000 passengers on that thing, right? Class action is what you need to file." I nod in sage approval of the advices of yet another landlubber lawyer.

What me wants to say is it's the Don Quixotes like you who step on their wicks when they file such suits and don't realize what they're going to be up against. The cruise lines, friends, are the commandants of maritime contracts, the sardars of special contract terms, captains of the F-U paragraph in the passenger ticket.

Oh, they're ways to win against a cruise line, but you've got to know what in heck you're doing before you sue these bullies of the ocean blue and testosterone alone won't win the day.

The basic point I'm making is the cruise lines have the advantage of the terms and conditions set forth in the passenger cruise ticket. Those many words that seem so laborious to read are like a bear trap; sprung open and waiting for the unsuspecting passenger to clamber about an injury or unfairness whereupon the trap clangs shut with an awful noise and a howl of injustice from the passenger.

The passenger ticket contract most likely contains terms forbidding class action suits, preventing a jury trial (where allowed), requiring you bring suit within a very short period of time (typically one year), insisting you file suit in a specific location (oftentimes in Florida), binding you to arbitrate in some instances, excluding claims for emotional distress and in the cloying verse of the 1970's Stephen Bishop it just goes "on and on."

It's incredible to me how much the cruise lines get away with when it comes to this nonsense. Why, I ask you, should a floating hotel be treated so much differently than the resort you'd stay at ashore? A passenger aboard a cruise line should not have his/her rights stripped from them in the manner the maritime jurisprudence has allowed in this country. The cruise lines should not be able to contract themselves into a position of advantage when defending a claim.

I've fought cruise lines. I've sat alone across from their phalanx of attorneys. I've found remedies for passengers injured aboard cruise lines and I've done so despite the passenger terms and conditions.

I've pulled passengers from the jaws of a cruise line's bear trap.

Listen, if you want to sue a cruise line make sure you read your passenger ticket's terms and conditions, act quickly and consider hiring a lawyer who's actually sued a cruise line in the past. Read more about cruise ship injury claims HERE.

Underway and making way (saltier and more passionate about fighting for passenger rights than when I started writing this small piece).

By John K. Fulweiler, Esq. (Read how the New York Times describes me as a maritime and admiralty specialist.)

1-800-383-MAYDAY (6293)

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