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Ruling could increase cruise ship medical malpractice claims

Florida is a major hub for the cruise line industry. Every year, thousands of individuals across Florida and the U.S. rely on these cruise lines for a nice get away from their normal lives. Though these vacations can be fun and relaxing, they can also be dangerous. Cruise lines have come under scrutiny lately for failing to provide their passengers with appropriate medical care when necessary. Making matters worse, cruise lines have primarily been exempt from medical malpractice lawsuits, giving them little reason to change their practices. But a recent court decision could change all of that.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided that nearly 100 years of precedent regarding cruise lines’ exemption from medical malpractice lawsuits is outdated. The case centered on one family’s claim that Royal Caribbean medical staff failed to accurately and timely diagnose a serious brain injury that eventually lead to a father’s death. The man fell while onboard one of the company’s cruise ships but, when he went to the ship’s nurse, was told that he needed to rest. It was not until hours later that an onboard doctor diagnosed him with a serious brain injury. By then it was too late to save the man’s life.

This ruling could be a huge win for those who suffer harm as a result of negligent cruise ship doctors and nurses. Though cruise ships are not floating hospitals, they should still be able to provide their passengers with adequate medical care. Therefore, those who have been injured as a result of medical malpractice onboard a cruise ship should think of the matter like a hospital mistake and consider contacting a Miami-based attorney.

It is worth noting that winning one of these lawsuits could hinge on showing that medical staff onboard the ship were controlled by the cruise line and were not mere independent contractors. Thus, if medical staff report to cruise ship personnel, wear uniforms, and are paid directly by the cruise line, then the cruise line itself may be susceptible to a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: Newsmax Health, “Door Opens for Cruise Malpractice Lawsuits,” Dec. 26, 2014


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