Passengers who were on a Royal Caribbean cruise excursion in Jamaica have filed a Miami car accident lawsuit in federal court against the cruise line after one person died and more than a dozen were injured.
As The Miami-Herald reported, motorists in Jamaica have something of a reputation for driving erratically. The roads in the island nation are winding and narrow and traffic laws are not strictly enforced. Still, tour guides frequently operate buses and vans on these stretches for various excursions for international cruise line patrons. This particular auto accident occurred in Falmouth, Jamaica, and affected passengers hailed from all over the eastern U.S., including South Florida, North Carolina and Connecticut, as well as Michigan and Illinois. The tourists were on an excursion to Dunn’s River Falls, which is near the main attraction, Dolphin Cove. It had been arranged by Royal Caribbean and was an offer extended to all passengers on the ship.
Those who survived the crash say that just before the collision, the operator of the tour bus was driving erratically, frequently switching lanes and excessively speeding. Several of those on board asked that he slow down. The driver reportedly assured the passengers that, “this is how everyone drives” in Jamaica. Maybe so, but it didn’t end well this time.
According to reports, the driver was on a two-lane road and as he approached a curve with limited visibility, he slammed into oncoming traffic in an attempt to pass another vehicle. Meanwhile, a truck was traveling the opposite direction and broadsided the bus as the truck driver tried to swerve to avoid impact.The bus flipped numerous times. One passenger was killed and several others suffered severe and permanent injuries, according to the car accident lawsuit.
Three of those on the bus were treated at a local hospital. The lawsuit filed alleged 18 of the 21 cruise ship passengers on board suffered injuries that ranged from scrapes and bruises to lifelong, debilitating conditions.
Any case against cruise ship operators can be tricky for a number of reasons. First, there are the waivers of liability that are printed on each ticket. Purchase and subsequent attendance on the ship can be legally construed as consent to those terms. Beyond that, injuries that occur on excursions often may only legally involve the small local outfits that contract with the large cruise lines to offer them. In this case, plaintiff attorneys allege passengers were made to believe the cruise line was the entity operating the excursion, as it was marketed as an affiliated trip. However, the excursion in question was in fact led by a third party, Jamaica-based tour operator.
Still, plaintiff lawyers assert that cruise line companies have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure patron’s safety from the beginning to end of their trip, and that responsibility is not severed when passengers take an excursion — particularly if it is one that is offered and marketed by the cruise line.
If nothing else, the case highlights the importance of road safety no matter where you are — whether it’s going to work or vacationing in Florida or traveling in another country. Always wear a seat belt, observe the speed limits and obey local traffic laws.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Passengers sue Royal Caribbean for reckless Jamaican tour that killed one traveler, Jan. 11, 2016, By Chabeli Herrera, Miami Herald
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GEICO v. Isaacs – Arguing Against Post-Accident Trial Remittitur, Jan. 3, 2016, Miami Car Accident Lawyer Blog