Authorities Investigate Death on Royal Caribbean International Cruise
Royal Caribbean operates several cruise ships that anchor at several ports of call, with two ships sailing to Seattle, Washington - Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas. A death on board the Enchantment of the Seas is currently under investigation. A 64 year old woman was found dead in her cabin by her husband. An autopsy confirmed her death was the result of a heart attack, and an investigation is still in progress for the suspicious death.
Cruises are associated with languid days on the beach and relaxing activities on deck. However, death and injury occur with the same frequency onboard as on land. Likewise, these events sometimes occur because of the negligent actions of another. Cruise ships are obligated to provide their guests with reasonable care under the circumstances. If they fail in this duty, and an injury or death occurs as a result of this failure, then the cruise line is liable for the damages that occurred as a result of the injury or death.
Cruise ship tickets include a "forum selection clause". This generally states that if you purchase the tickets from the cruise line, you agree to the cruise line's choice of venue if you pursue legal action against the cruise line. In addition to the limitation of where you can sue, cruise lines require that you provide written notice of a claim BEFORE filing suit in a court of law. Royal Caribbean requires that notice of a claim be submitted within six months of the date of the illness, injury, or accident. The lawsuit must be filed within one year after the date of the illness, injury, or accident. Other cruise lines have similar clauses, but you are encouraged to check since the requirement may be less than six months to file notice of a claim.
If a death on board occurs because of the cruise line's negligence, where the ship was located when the injury occurred could determine whether the federal Death on the High Seas Act preempts the injured's or representative's ability to file a claim in state court. If the event that caused the death or injury occurred further than three nautical miles off the coast, then DOHSA applies and damages are limited to loss of support, services, and inheritance. It must also be proven with supported facts and a reasonable amount of certainty to avoid speculation.
Washington attorneys John Merriam and Gordon Webb have over thirty years of combined experience practicing maritime and admiralty law. John Merriam has worked for over twelve years as a merchant seaman, and understands the environment of working aboard a ship. Both attorneys practice extensively in cruise ship personal injury litigation for cruise lines operating ships at ports of call across the United States. They aggressively seek compensation so that you get the money you need for hospital or funeral bills. If you have been injured or have a family member who died while sailing on a cruise line, contact Washington Cruise Ship Accident attorneys John Merriam and Gordon Webb at 877.800.1007.