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Royal Caribbean’s $20 Million Mistake

You’re finally going on the family vacation of your dreams, a 7-night cruise throughout the Bahamas, but the excitement is cut short when a family member slips and falls while onboard.

So, what exactly can you do?

In 2016, the United States cruise industry had a $126 billion worldwide economic impact. The Cruise Lines International Association reports that 24.7 million passengers sailed the seas in 2016, and an estimated 27.2 million are expected to cruise before the end of 2018. While cruising provides a unique opportunity to see more than one geographical location within a short period of time, this luxury does not come without risk. Amidst the glamour and festivities is a masked truth that all passengers are still aboard a moving vessel weighing hundred of thousands of tons. Passengers, however, are not the only class of persons who may receive monetary damages from a cruise line if injured on board.

On Friday, June, 1, a jury awarded a former Royal Caribbean marketing and revenue manager  $20.3 million in damages, lost wages, and future medical expenses after she injured her hand during a routine fire safety drill. On board the Voyager of the Seas, a nurse, who was unaware of the drill at the time,  opened a semi-water tight door that prevents water from flooding the ship. The nurse fell through the door, and the Plaintiff caught the nurse before grabbing a handle to keep the door open. The door slid back into its resting pocket in the wall of the ship, taking the Plaintiff’s hand with it and crushing it into a space barely large enough for a pen.

Unfortunately, the horror continued, as Royal Caribbean had failed to properly train the crew to operate the door that crushed the Plaintiff’s hand. This caused her hand to be sucked into the door jam three additional times while onlookers alerted the ship’s bridge to disable the doors.

Royal Caribbean is no stranger to incidents of this kind. From 2005 to the time of this incident in 2008 alone, 12 Royal Caribbean employees suffered hand injuries caused by the same sliding door mechanism. Despite dealing with similar situations in the past, Royal Caribbean was unable to provide adequate and prompt medical treatment. In a failed attempt to rectify the situation, the cruise line referred the injured employee to a Barcelona physician whom splinted her fingers incorrectly, requiring two additional years of physical therapy to correct.

In a personal injury lawsuit, the judge or jury addresses four factors in deciding whether negligence occurred:

  1. The Defendant must owe a legal duty to protect against the type of injury that occurred to the Plaintiff. In this case, Royal Caribbean had a duty to protect its employees’ safety during a routine fire drill.
  2. That duty must be breached by the Defendant’s action or inaction. Royal Caribbean failed to properly train its employees to operate the door, and failed to properly inform all employees of the impending fire drill.
  3. The Defendant’s action or inaction must legally and actually caused the Plaintiff’s injuries. Royal Caribbean’s failure to educate its employees on how to properly operate the door directly caused the Plaintiff’s injuries.
  4. The Plaintiff must suffer damages. Here, the former employee was disfigured, lost wages, and suffers permanent defects in her ability to use her hand.

This verdict serves as a disheartening reminder that even the largest of organizations can overlook essential safety protocols and procedures. However, the $20.3 million award of damages illustrates that you need not continue to suffer if you have been negligently injured in an accident. The Friedland | Carmona is here to help you and your family recover from accidents just like this one, and have recovered more than $15 million in damages for accident victims all throughout South Florida.

The South Florida personal injury attorneys at the Friedland | Carmona handle all types of negligence, product liability, personal injury, negligent security, slip/trip and fall, and car accident cases throughout the state of Florida, including Boca Raton, Homestead, North Miami, South Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines, Hialeah, Kendall, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach.  Call today and let our family take care of yours.

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