Cruise Lines Are No Longer Protected Against Medical Malpractice Claims

Until very recently, if you were the victim of medical malpractice while on a cruise, you couldn't sue! Essentially, the legal logic harkened back to the days when ships had almost non-existent medical facilities. Despite advancements that have given luxury liners premium medical facilities, the laws still protected the cruise lines as if passengers should simply have known better than to expect good medical care. Things have now changed, and you should know how this can affect your rights.

They Could Promise You Anything 

Cruise companies have advertised their state-of-the-art medical care to foster a sense of safety among people who are older or in less stable health. Statistics show that the average cruise client is over 45 years old. Since many people begin to develop chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and more as they approach middle age, it's good business sense to make sure that potential passengers in that age group and over believe that they'll have access to quality medical care on their cruise.

However, the cruise lines didn't tell passengers the truth: the medical care onboard ships was often spotty, with doctors and nurses that worked as independent contractors. Many weren't even licensed in the United States. Cruise lines could advertise their top-notch medical facilities, but didn't have to deliver, because they couldn't be held legally liable. Recovering for your injuries, or the death of a loved one, was virtually impossible.

New Rulings Favor The Injured

All of that changed recently due to the unfortunate death of a cruise passenger who fell and later died due to head trauma. A nurse who examined him failed to order tests and told him to go back to his cabin. Treatment was further delayed because the cruise line wanted to make sure the man's credit card cleared for payment first.

The court ruled that the "Barbetta rule," the legal precedent which had long protected cruise lines from responsibility, didn't have a good basis in logic anymore. This has now opened the doorway for lawsuits by other passengers who've been victimized by medical malpractice on cruise lines.

Some Medical Malpractice Is More Common On Cruises

Medical malpractice can take many forms, but on a cruise line there are some specific things to look for, such as:

  • delays in emergency care (while someone checks out your finances)
  • not running basic tests (like blood work or x-rays) for which there is available equipment
  • incorrect diagnosis (such as being told there is nothing wrong when you've actually suffered a heart attack or serious head injury)
  • prescribing the wrong medication (such as an antibiotic to which you have clearly indicated an allergy)
  • ignoring an infection or treating it with medication that's not strong enough

Hopefully, any cruise that you take will be a happy one and you won't experience any health problems. If you believe, however, that you've been the victim of medical malpractice while on a cruise, contact an attorney. like Greg S. Memovich, right away to discuss your case. The tides have changed, and cruise lines can no longer hide behind outdated laws.