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National Transportation Safety Board Holds Forum to Improve Cruise Line Safety Practices

This week the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) met for two days to discuss the safety measures in the cruise industry. Following the disastrous Costa Concordia accident in Italy in 2012, the cruise line industry incorporated safety policies that went over and above the current government regulations. The senior vice president for technical and regulatory affairs at the Cruise Lines International Association informed the audience during the forum. The CLIA vice president cited the statistic that 27 passengers have died from 2002 to 2012.

The two day forum focused on the cruise line industry because many of the onboard problems occur further than the U.S. territory line located 12 miles off shore. The onboard fires on three ships have increased concern about safety. New ships built after July 2010 have redundant power systems so an engine fire doesn't prevent ships from returning to port. Keeping hundreds of passengers and crew members onboard the ship is safer and more effective than relying on lifeboat, so the ability to independently sail back to port is important. The challenges facing the industry include the inability to add a second engine on ships designed to have only one engine, and the slow pace of replacing ships. The cruise industry has also looked toward the airline industry for cues on safety improvement. Two measures include the implementation of a quality assurance plan where data is recorded and used to reduce or eliminate safety risks, and a "no blame" system that allows crew members to report issues without fear of reprimand or losing their job.

While it is encouraging to see the cruise line industry take proactive measures to improve safety, human error always poses a risk to health and safety, regardless of the industry or activity. As a passenger or crew member is it important to understand available legal remedies if an accident or injury occurs while sailing or working onboard a cruise ship. Cruise lines are obligated to maintain a seaworthy vessel and provide their passengers and crew with reasonable care under the circumstances. Reasonable care under the circumstances is considered against the dangers and surroundings unique to maritime travel. Monetary damages for lost wages and medical bills may be available if it can be shown the cruise line failed to provide a seaworthy vessel or reasonable care, and that this failure caused the injury or death. Injured crew members are entitled to the traditional maritime remedies of maintenance and cure, which are expenses for daily living and medical recovery.

The Washington cruise ship attorneys Gordon Webb and John Merriam have the knowledge and experience you need to pursue a personal injury action against a cruise line. Quick action is needed as passenger cruise ship contracts limit the time available to provide notice of a claim. Our attorneys understand the challenges our clients face, and we work tirelessly to find and utilize every recourse available. To see how you can maximize your compensation, call our office today at 877.800.1007 for a free, confidential consultation.

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