Are Cruise Ship Liability Waivers Enforceable?
Many cruise lines now offer onboard activities like rockwall climbing, zip lines, ice skating or simulated surfing, and they typically require passengers to sign a liability waiver before participating in any of these activities. One cruise ship attraction that has recently garnered legal headlines is Royal Caribbean’s FlowRider, which allows passengers to surf or body board on simulated waves.
Last December, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court decision in a lawsuit filed by a Royal Caribbean passenger who was injured on the FlowRider, ruling that the cruise line’s liability waiver is unenforceable. The court determined the waiver violates a federal law that prohibits owners of vessels transporting passengers between U.S. ports or between U.S. and foreign ports from including any regulation or contractual provision that attempts to limit the owner’s liability when owner or employee negligence results in a passenger’s injury or death. The court further held that this statute applies to activities even if they are considered recreational or ultra hazardous.
The lawsuit involves a female passenger on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas who fractured her ankle while riding the FlowRider. Allegedly, a Royal Caribbean employee instructed her to stand up on a body board — equipment not intended for standing — and she fell when he let go of it.
Cruise ship passengers injured during onboard activities need an experienced maritime attorney on their side, especially if they signed a liability waiver. Maritime law and general personal injury law differ significantly, and maritime attorneys specialize in lawsuits involving injuries at sea. Were you hurt while participating in a cruise ship activity? Contact a Boston maritime attorney today.
Latti & Anderson LLP –Boston maritime trial lawyers