Taking a cruise out of California should be the start of a relaxing vacation – not a nightmare in which you or a loved one suffers a serious personal injury. Unfortunately, not all cruise lines take the safety of passengers seriously. Many different oversights, acts of negligence and attempts to save money could cause passenger injuries and illnesses. If you plan on taking a cruise, watch out for these five health and safety risks in particular.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Fall accidents cause millions of visits to emergency rooms in the U.S. each year. Slip and fall accidents specifically send an average of one million people to the hospital, according to the National Floor Safety Institute. A slip/trip and fall accident could happen on a cruise ship if it contains defects such as loose carpeting, worn rugs, exposed cords, obstacles in walkways, slippery floors or decks, water pipe leaks, or dangerous staircases.
Although a cruise line might not be liable for assumed fall risks, such as those associated with the natural rocking of the boat, it could be financially responsible for fall accidents related to its negligence. The cruise line could owe you compensation if an investigation finds that you fell due to an obvious cruise ship hazard, foreseeable risk or lack of adequate warning.
Elevator or Escalator Accidents
Cruise ship escalators and elevators can malfunction, break down and get stuck while in use – exposing riders to serious risks of injuries and death. Elevator and escalator malfunctions seriously injure thousands of people each year. Common injuries include broken bones, crush injuries, lacerations, fall injuries, pinched skin, traumatic amputations and deadly falls. If the cruise line negligently failed to maintain, inspect or repair its elevators or escalators, and this is what caused your injuries, the company could be liable for damages.
Swimming Pool Accidents
Almost all cruise ships have swimming pools, hot tubs, Jacuzzis, spas and saunas on board. It is the cruise line’s responsibility to adequately maintain these elements, as well as to keep them reasonably safe for kids on the ship. Swimming pools and hot tubs are what the law calls attractive nuisances, meaning they are dangerous property elements that are especially attractive to children. Cruise ship owners with attractive nuisances have a higher duty of care to make them inaccessible to children, even trespassing children.
Even if a child should not be on a certain pool deck or inside the spa, the cruise line could be liable if a child does break the rule and suffers an injury in an accessible swimming area. A cruise line must take special precautions against drowning accidents for all passengers, including hiring lifeguards and using barriers to keep children out when the pool is closed. A cruise line should also prevent other pool-related hazards, such as slip-and-fall risks, diving risks, missing drain covers, unsanitary water and broken glass.
Food-related illnesses such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria could arise on cruise ships due to improper storage or handling of food. Lack of refrigeration, the use of old food, failure to cook raw foods completely, cross-contaminated food items, contaminated drinking water, spoiled food or toxic food could all cause serious cases of food poisoning. An unsanitary cruise ship or one that experiences a power failure could also lead to passenger infections and diseases.
Physical assaults on cruise ships can come from fellow passengers or staff members. Acts of violence or sexual assault on a ship could be the cruise line’s responsibility if it reasonably should have done more to prevent the incident, such as conduct background checks on employees or increase security on the ship. A cruise line will also be vicariously liable for the criminal or negligent acts of its employees.