On Thursday June 25, 2015, a small sight seeing plane set to visit the Misty Fjords National Monument crashed on the side of a granite cliff approximately 300 miles south of Juneau, Alaska. All who were on the float plane, eight passengers and one pilot, died in the crash. The passengers aboard the plane were all cruise ship passengers taking a seven day cruise on the MS Westerdam, one of Holland America Lines’ cruise ships.
At this time, authorities have not yet determined the cause of the crash. The plane was operated by Promech Air, and was sold as a shore-side private excursion through Holland America Lines.
Our Florida maritime attorneys at Munch and Munch, P.A. hope that through this tragedy, we can provide potential future cruise passengers with important information to be able to protect your rights and participate in cruise vacations safely. So what is the important take-away? When researching or choosing between shore-side excursions on a cruise, it is important to take note of who is offering the excursion. Is this an excursion solely operated and advertised by the owner of the excursion itself? Or is this an excursion purchased through, or advertised by, the cruise line? In the event of an unfortunate accident, this distinction is critical.
The potential to recover damages from a cruise line for an accident involving a shore-side excursion hinges on whether or not the cruise line sold or advertised for the excursion. The cruise line has the duty to properly vet the shore side excursion that it is recommending. This includes researching the excursions’ safety records, training, history of prior accidents, etc. So, when the ship does sell or advertise for an excursion, it is essentially vouching for its safety, and becomes partly responsible for the excursion’s dangerous conduct.
It is important to be wary of excursions that are not advertised by or sold through the cruise. Why? This is because if you have an accident during an excursion not sold by or advertised by the cruise line itself, you may only be able to seek damages from the excursion operator. Not surprisingly, many are not insured and will not have enough money to cover your losses. Moreover, you will likely be limited to bringing suit in the venue (location) of the excursion (e.g. Caribbean islands, Africa, Europe). More often than not, the difficulty of bringing suit in a foreign court system will not be worth the minimal potential for recovery.
If you or a loved one has been injured during a shore-side excursion or other activity while on a cruise, our attorneys at Munch and Munch, P.A. have extensive experience taking on the cruise lines. We know their tactics, and the special rules that apply not only to on-the-water accidents, but also specifically to cruise lines. Hiring an attorney familiar with maritime law will be critical to your cruise ship accident case. Call 813-254-1557 or email us for a free consultation with our Florida maritime injury attorneys to discuss your potential claim.
Read more about the Alaskan plane crash here: