Cruise Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in 2024 - Things to Know

If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to medical malpractice on a cruise, filing a cruise medical malpractice lawsuit is a good option to claim damages. 

Passengers suffering from issues that require medical attention when aboard a cruise ship may encounter a medical malpractice incident. It might be because the medical professional engaged in negligence, or they could have breached their duty of care to the patient.  

For example, a passenger suffers an injury at the hands of a cruise ship doctor. Another instance is when the patient receives treatment or medication that is not needed or applicable. The mistreatment can prove detrimental or even fatal to the passenger in these incidents. Thus, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible to strengthen your case before filing a cruise medical malpractice lawsuit.

Common injuries that lead to cruise ship medical malpractice

Cruise ship passengers who become ill or injured often have little choice but to rely on the doctors and nurses provided by the medical facility onboard the ship. If your ship is in the middle of the ocean, far from land, getting to a land-based doctor or emergency room is not a viable option. Therefore, passengers expect cruise ships to provide properly trained and qualified medical staff on every cruise. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Cruise ship medical staff may commit medical malpractice in several ways. These include:

  • Delayed diagnosis.
  • Discouraging or refusing to provide treatment.
  • Failure to provide proper and prompt medical care.
  • Failure to properly monitor patient conditions.
  • Improper medical treatment.
  • Misdiagnosis.

Free Consultation

Please Fill up Details and Check Captcha !!

cruise medical malpractice lawsuit

Cruise medical malpractice and the coronavirus pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the cruise line industry. Outside of China, the first major outbursts of Coronavirus were on board cruise ships.

Despite knowing the higher risks to passengers, many cruise line owners and operators continued operating like there was no pandemic.

Evidence showed that the cruise line operators knew there was a significant risk of their passengers contracting COVID-19. Nevertheless, they continued to operate their cruise after their Coronavirus patients had disembarked and new passengers had boarded. 

Cruise lines chose to put profit over people, which resulted in multiple outbreaks. This is the reason for the higher cases of medical malpractice on cruise ships during the pandemic.

Cruise ships have a legal duty to provide adequate medical care for passengers needing medical attention. In addition, COVID-19 patients onboard should have access to the following:

  • Airway management systems.
  • Blood pressure monitoring equipment.
  • Cardiac EKG monitoring systems.
  • IV supplies and pumps.
  • Nebulizers.
  • Oxygen systems.

When the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifted the “no-sail” order for cruise lines operating in US waters, it became important for cruise ship owners and operators to do everything they could to ensure all passengers were safe on board.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, cruise lines were mandated to have all the important medical equipment on board to smoothly handle emergencies that may arise. However, with many cruise lines ignoring these recommendations, there are likely to be cases of medical negligence related to future COVID-19 illnesses onboard cruise lines.

Who is liable in a medical malpractice case abroad on a cruise ship?

As a general rule, if the medical staff onboard a cruise ship is acting as employees of the cruise line rather than as independent contractors, the cruise line can be held liable for medical malpractice committed by their staff.

Here are some factors that can help you prove that the cruise ship’s medical staff acted as employees:

  • The cruise line advertised its medical facilities or medical care to passengers.
  • The cruise line hired and fired the medical staff.
  • The medical staff was required to wear the ship’s uniform and report to the ship’s captain.
  • The vessel’s doctor was an officer of the ship.
  • The medical staff is directly paid by the cruise line.
  • The cruise line takes responsibility for stocking and maintaining supplies, equipment, and medications in the medical facility.
  • The cruise line bills passengers for medical services provided onboard the ship.

Furthermore, cruise ship passengers who fall victim to medical malpractice may be able to sue the cruise line for hiring an unqualified person to be on staff. Technically, filing a cruise medical malpractice lawsuit against the staff members directly may also be possible. However, as most doctors and nurses onboard cruise ships are citizens of foreign countries, the United States Courts may not have jurisdiction over their persons. 

Nevertheless, the concerned cruise line often offers indemnification for negligent shipboard doctors and nurses. Hiring the top lawyers will help you get a fair settlement for medical malpractice on a cruise.

The 4 elements of negligence

Any person who makes a medical malpractice claim or files a malpractice lawsuit should prove the following four (4) elements:

When assessing medical malpractice on a cruise claim, the first thing to check is whether or not the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care. In some circumstances, the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant might create a duty by operation of law. For example, a doctor owes a patient a legal duty to provide them with competent medical care. Another example is that a person is expected to operate a motor vehicle safely and with a certain level of due care to his passengers as well as third persons.

Next, the court will determine whether the defendant breached this duty by doing (or not doing something) that a reasonably prudent person would do under similar circumstances.

Note: the term “reasonably prudent person” refers to a legal standard that represents how the average person would responsibly act in a certain situation.

In other words, the defendant would be found liable for medical malpractice on cruise ships if the average person, knowing what the defendant knew at the time, would have known that someone might have been injured as a result of his or her actions and would have acted differently than the defendant did in that situation.

The third element requires that the plaintiff show that the defendant’s negligence or breach of duty caused their injury. For example, the claimant must prove that the condition she developed after receiving treatment from the cruise ship doctor was because she was given a medicine that she was not supposed to take. 

Another aspect of this element looks at whether the defendant could reasonably have foreseen that his or her actions might cause an injury. For instance, if the defendant’s actions somehow caused the plaintiff injury through a random, unexpected act of nature, the injury would most likely be deemed unforeseeable, and the defendant would not likely be found liable.

This element is quite complex. Therefore, you would need qualified maritime lawyers to help you prove causation to get maximum compensation for your injury.

The final element of a negligence case is damage. In essence, this means that the breach of duty or negligence should have resulted in an injury or damage to the claimant. It will then be the basis of the computation for monetary compensation. This includes coverage for medical care or property repair.

Why choose Ethen Ostroff Law?

Cruise injury claims are complicated due to jurisdictional issues and other legal questions. Therefore, to help establish and prove a cruise medical malpractice lawsuit, the injured party needs the support and assistance of an experienced maritime lawyer.

Our team at Ethen Ostroff Law works closely with clients to prove all elements of negligence and gather sufficient evidence for settlement negotiations. To ensure you get maximum compensation, we will provide you with the best references of skilled lawyers of medical malpractice on the cruise. Our contacts have extensive experience investigating and litigating these types of cases both nationally and internationally.

Call us at 610-510-8883 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.

Please complete the short form to have Ethen Ostroff Law review your case at no cost and in complete confidence. We will get back to you within 48 hours to discuss your situation. By submitting your case for review, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.