Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

Fatal Cruise Ship Accident Prompts the Question – Are Cruises Safe for Kids?

A little girl suffered a fatal fall on a Carnival cruise ship last week, raising questions about whether cruises are safe for young children. Zion Smith, an eight-year-old from the Bahamas, was waiting with her family to disembark the ship. Smith and her brother were leaning on an upper-deck railing to watch other guests disembark when she fell two stories to a deck below. According to Miami Dade Police, the ship was docked at PortMiami at the time of the accident. The child was rushed to the hospital, where she later died.

Jennifer de la Cruz, a spokeswoman for Carnival, assured the public that Carnival is an extremely safe cruise line for everyone, children included. She said that the railing from which the girl fell was 47-inches high.

“We hold broad appeal to the family market based on the fun, safe and secure vacation experience we provide,” said de la Cruz. She went on to say that more children cruise on Carnival than any other cruise line. Approximately 800,000 children are expected to sail on Carnival in 2017.

Lifeguards on Duty?

Other cruise lines, including Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, have made headlines in recent years for drownings on onboard swimming pools. In response, several cruise lines have added lifeguards, but it’s still “swim at your own risk” on many cruise ships. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on a cruise ship.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were 30 reported incidents during the three-month period between April and June 2017. These included 19 sexual assaults and a missing person. And in 2016, the Carnival Pride struck a gangway while docked in Baltimore, causing more than $2 million in damages.

Types of Cruise Accidents

The numbers above may sound high, but remember that millions of people take cruises without incident every year. When accidents do occur, they are generally classified as one of the following:

  • Mechanical – power loss, fire
  • Weather related – storms, hurricanes, heavy fogs
  • Illness – gastrointestinal problems, such as Norovirus and Influenza, and other outbreaks of food poisoning or fever
  • Injuries – fractures, assault, sexual assault
  • Criminal offenses – theft, indecent exposure, drug possession
  • Deaths – missing persons, onboard drowning, falling or jumping overboard, murder, suicide, heart attack
  • Disasters – collisions, sinking, pirate attacks, capsizing

Although the above accidents and incidents are all possible, most are rare. Norovirus illness is actually one of the most common cruise injuries, with an average of 15 outbreaks annually.

Be Prepared

If you have plans to take your children on a cruise this year, it’s a good idea to learn the basics of boating and marine safety, and to familiarize yourself with the ship’s safety procedures, including designated emergency locations and how to put on a life jacket. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

 

Altman & Altman, LLP – Personal Injury Law Firm Serving All of MA

If you have been injured on a cruise ship, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of accident and injury victims for more than 50 years. Although accidents on cruise ships do happen, the incidence of fatal accidents is relatively low. That being said, if you are planning to cruise with young children, use extra caution. Cruises can be a safe, enjoyable vacation for the entire family, but small children should never be left unsupervised on a cruise ship. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys have an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for our clients. If you’ve been injured, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.