According to the Massachusetts Port Authority — which manages Boston’s cruise ship port, Cruiseport Boston, — over 300,000 passengers pass through the port each year. The 2016 season will bring 117 vessels through the port, which is the home base for four ships as well as a port of call for numerous ships on 17 different cruise lines.
According to Mass Port, Massachusetts is one of the top ten states economically impacted by the cruise industry. By estimate, passengers and crew spent 36 million dollars in Boston in 2012. It is also estimated (in a 2013 report) that the industry brought 8,000 jobs to Massachusetts and $479 million in income.
With the cruise industry booming in Massachusetts, passengers, crew, and their families often require legal advice for injuries and deaths that occur aboard a ship or in a port of call. Generally, injuries that occur in port are treated the same way as any other injury that occurs in Massachusetts. Usually, injuries that occur in port are not caused by the cruise line or its staff, but by local vendors, tour guides, or property owners.
In situations where the cruise line may be held responsible, such as on excursions sponsored by the cruise, injured parties may bring claims against both the company arranging the excursion, which are generally considered to be independent contractors of the cruise line. In some cases, where the cruise line may be responsible for the negligence of the independent contractor through a doctrine called “respondeat superior,” cruise lines will often have the right to choose where the injured party must bring the case. The cruise industry does this through part of the standard ticket contract, known as a “forum selection clause.” Under these clauses, injured parties may be required to bring their cases in courts in Florida or other states regardless of where the injury occurred. These same rules generally apply when passengers are injured by a cruise line’s negligence while at sea.
As for members of a ship’s crew, where they must file claims and who they must file claims against varies greatly depending on what the crew member is doing at the time of the injury and where the injury occurs. Claims of injured crew will likely fall under federal maritime law or the Jones Act. Crew members injured in a port of call may be able to claim local workers’ compensation benefits.
Navigating your legal rights when you or a family member is injured while on a cruise, whether on the boat or in a port, can be extremely difficult, and those seeking more information should not wait to seek the advice of a lawyer. Call Keches Law Group today for a free consultation.