Going on a cruise is supposed to be a fun, relaxing, and rejuvenating experience. Many Maryland residents choose to go on cruises to relax and spend time with family and loved ones. However, just as they can onshore, accidents can happen on cruise ships, leaving passengers seriously injured. When this happens because of a cruise line’s negligence, passengers may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the cruise line to recover for the injuries they suffered. These types of suits are often referred to as premises liability, because they are a way of holding owners responsible for accidents that occur on their premises.
For example, take a recent federal appellate case. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was a passenger on a cruise ship and was walking with her husband to one of the restaurants on board the ship. To get to the restaurant, the passengers had to walk through a narrow opening between some lounge chairs on the deck and the ship’s railing. While walking, the plaintiff’s foot got caught on a leg of a lounge chair, causing her to slip and fall. She suffered serious injuries as a result of this incident, and so she sued the cruise ship line to recover for her medical bills and her pain and suffering. The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the cruise line knew or should have known about the dangerous condition on the ship, and was negligent in not warning passengers about it. In response, the defendant cruise line moved for summary judgment, arguing in part that they did not know and should not have known about the condition. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment, but the plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the appellate court considered whether the defendant cruise line had notice or should have had notice of the condition, and determined that they did. Importantly, the plaintiff presented evidence that the cruise line took corrective action to make the situation less dangerous, by requiring the lounge chairs to be set up in the upright position, thus protruding less into the walkway. The cruise line also had employees monitor the area and put the chairs back upright if they were lowered by passengers. This evidence was sufficient to defeat summary judgment, as it is not clear that the cruise ship definitely did not know about the condition. The court reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded the case back to the trial court. This ruling allowed the plaintiff to move forward with the case and, hopefully, to receive monetary compensation from the cruise line responsible for her injuries.