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. Continue reading