On cruise ships, there is typically a doctor or a nurse on board to provide care to patients who are injured while on the boat or in port on an excursion.
In 1988, a circuit court ruling provided immunity to cruise lines in situations where the ship's employees provide negligent health care to patients. However, a recent ruling may eliminate the broad immunity from malpractice claims that cruise lines currently enjoy.
A medical malpractice attorney in New York knows cruise lines frequently leave from local ports with passengers on board. These passengers deserve to be able to take legal action in situations where a medical professional aboard the cruise fails to provide a basic minimum level of patient care.
Cruise Lines Can Be Sued for Medical Negligence
According to the Los Angeles Times, a man hit his head aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise in 2011. He was seen by a nurse aboard the ship after the incident occurred. However, the nurse provided minimal treatment and the doctor did not see the man until four hours later. The man was subsequently airlifted to a hospital in New York the following day and he died a week later.
When the man's daughter filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean, the cruise line tried to get the case dismissed on the basis of a 1988 precedent-setting ruling by a circuit court providing immunity for cruise lines in cases where employees provide negligent treatment. The 1988 case was called Barbetta vs. SS Bermuda Star.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the prior case and found it was outdated in light of the growth of the cruise industry, as well as in light of the advancement of technology aboard cruise ships.
A victim's advocate who stands up for cruise passengers who are injured saw the court ruling as a "historic change in the way cruise lines treat people who get sick on cruise ships." Passenger advocates who speak out on behalf of people who suffer injury on cruises also believe the decision is praiseworthy, since cruise ships should be responsible for the actions of employees..
In light of the 11th Circuit Court decision, the woman whose father was killed can now take the case back to trial court. The case can be decided on its merits, rather than being thrown out because of an old law that no longer makes good sense.
It is standard practice for employees to act on behalf of employers and for employers to be held responsible for the things their workers do on-the-job. For example, if a doctor in a hospital provides negligent care to patients, the patient who is harmed as a direct result of this can file a lawsuit not just against the doctor but also against the hospital employer. There is no reason for cruise lines to be treated differently. If ships have doctors and healthcare providers on board, it is essential to ensure these individuals are qualified and adhere to applicable standards of care so tragedies can be averted.
For more information about how a medical malpractice attorney in New York can help you with your medical malpractice case, contact Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm, PLLC. Call 212-736-0979 or visit http://www.jcreiterlaw.com and schedule a free consultation today.