A cruise that departs from Florida’s sunny tropical waters is suppose to be an experience of a lifetime. You can see the beautiful beaches in Mexico, relax around the pool or snorkel in the waters of the Caribbean. But given the huge number of cruise ships that depart annually from Florida, there are bound to be medical emergencies. A person can have a heart attack or can slip and fall while shopping at a port souvenir shop. In these instances, passengers on the ship expect to receive quality medical care.
For years, because they operate on international waters, cruise ship operators have claimed they were not responsible for medical malpractice in the United States. That changed on November 10, 2014. A federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled that cruise ships could be sued for medical malpractice in the United States.
The suit was brought by Patricia Franza. Her father died as a result of fall on a Royal Caribbean Cruises ship in 2011. As a result of his fall, he suffered a significant brain injury, but the injury went undiagnosed by medical personnel on the ship. He was allowed to return to his cabin, but his condition quickly grew worse. He was eventually transferred to a Bermuda hospital and later flown to New York where he died. It was hours from the time of the accident before he received proper medical care.
A U.S. district court judge originally dismissed the case. The judge claimed the cruise company was not libel for medical malpractice because the nurses and doctors on the ship are independent contractors. The judicial panel overturned the decision and wrote cruise ships “house thousands of people and operate as floating cities, complete with well-stocked infirmaries and urgent care centers. In place of truly independent doctors and nurses, we must acknowledge that medical professions routinely work for corporate masters.”
The ruling will most likely be appealed, but it could clear the way for lawsuits against cruise ship companies for medical malpractice. Cruise ship companies often use foreign-trained medical professionals, and lawyers for the family that brought the suit believe the ruling could force cruise companies to invest heavily in upgrading the medical talent on a ship.
If you or a loved one has been injured during a cruise and suffered medical malpractice, contact the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A. immediately at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) for a free initial consultation.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
Connect with James O. Cunningham on Google+