$2.5 Million Maritime Verdict for Cruise Ship Employee

In September 2013, our law firm secured a favorable jury verdict in the amount of $2.5 million for their client, who was an employee of Celebrity Cruises. The client had been injured as the result of the cruise line’s negligence, failure to provide a safe environment and failure to provide adequate care. In addition to the verdict of $2.5 million in injury compensation, the jury also awarded $50,000 in attorney fees.


With over 40 years of experience working on behalf of individuals and their families affected by serious personal injuries as well as high-profile litigation, the law firm of Colson Hicks Eidson understands that in addition to injuries that occur on land, injuries can occur at sea. This includes injuries suffered by cruise ship passengers and seamen injured while working on the job.

Many of these personal injuries at sea claims fall under maritime law and admiralty law. Our maritime attorneys work diligently on behalf of injured seaman, cruise ship passengers as well as families dealing with the aftermath of fatal maritime injuries. Our work in these areas includes providing effective representation to individuals located throughout the nation and the world.


Admiralty law governs the navigation and shipping that occurs both at sea and inland. Maritime law describes the regulations, legal issues, rules, and body of laws as it pertains to ocean commerce, marine resources as well as navigation.
While federal laws govern maritime matters in the United States, maritime injury cases can often involve the maritime laws of other international countries, since each country has its own maritime regulations as well.

In addition to governing injury claims made by passengers on ships, crewmembers, and seamen, admiralty and maritime law also regulates injuries sustained by individuals on recreational boats and yachts. The following are common maritime laws that may also benefit those who suffer injuries while on the water:

  • The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
  • Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010
  • Maintenance and Cure Rights
  • Limitation of Liability Act
  • Public Vessels Act
  • The Jones Act


Traveling or working by sea has its dangers. Maritime accidents can cause devastating injuries. In many cases, proper safety precautions could have prevented these tragedies.

The most frequent maritime accidents are:

  • Falls overboard:
    Maritime workers, cruise ship passengers, and others at sea may fall overboard into the ocean or in-between vessels. Falls overboard are particularly hazardous, leaving individuals vulnerable to: 
    • Hypothermia
    • Drowning
    • Crush injuries if caught between vessels
    • Lacerations and amputations from propellers

  • Slip and falls on decks:
    Slips and falls can lead to serious injuries, accounting for 43% of all maritime injuries. Maritime workers can slip and fall building and repairing ships or cruise passengers may be injured walking through cluttered walkways.

  • Drowning:
    Even the strongest swimmers are vulnerable to drowning:
    • Workers may fall into the sea working aboard maritime work vessels. According to a barge or releasing mooring lines
    • A ferry, charter boat, or sailboat may sink
    • Riders may drown or nearly drown from jet ski accidents

  • Dock and pier accidents:
    Loading and unloading heavy cargo carry many risks. As workers hall loads on and off boats, they may face injuries or death from:
    • Heavy equipment used to move shipping containers
    • Distracted drivers on the pathways
    • Falling from the pier or dock
    • Crush injuries between shipping containers

  • Fishing injuries:
    Fishing injuries refer to a broad range of negligent accidents.


    • 725 commercial fishermen suffered fatal injuries over the span of 15 years
    • Almost half of all fatalities occurred after their vessel incurred a disaster
    • Falls overboard account for 30% of deaths
    • 12% of fatalities are the result of an accident aboard the ship

  • Food poisoning:
    Food poisoning can lead to serious side effects if not treated timely and properly. It is imperative food aboard a vessel is prepared properly.

  • Elevator and escalator accidents:
    Cruise ships are massive vessels that often have elevators and escalators for passenger convenience. When not maintained properly, they can malfunction, trapping body parts or causing serious falls

  • Heavy machinery and equipment malfunctions:
    Commercial shipping boats, cruise liners, and docks contain heavy and hazardous equipment. When a machine malfunctions, it can cause:
    • Amputations
    • Broken or fractured bones
    • Crush injuries
    • Spinal cord injuries

  • Legionnaire’s disease:
    Legionnaire’s disease is a bacterial illness typical around pools and hot tubs. The symptoms are similar to pneumonia and can spread quickly among passengers of a boat.

  • Fire and explosions:
    When a fire or explosion happens aboard a sea vessel, passengers and workers have very little time to act quickly and control and spread. Ships can sink, passengers and maritime workers can suffer severe burns or amputations, and the limited medical facilities can become overrun.

  • Chemical burns and toxic exposure:
    Maritime workers are especially vulnerable to chemical burns and toxic exposure. On many vessels, the compartments are small with very little airflow, causing damage far quicker than in an open environment.

  • Violent assault and sexual assault:
    Unfortunately, sexual assault and other violent crimes happen on cruise ships, boats, yachts, and maritime work vessels.According to A Review of Crime Aboard Cruise Shipsconducted by the International Journal of Safety and Security in Tourism/Hospitality:
    • The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) approximates only one-third of sexual assaults are reported
    • The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) approximates less than 23% of sexual assaults are reported
    • The Department of Transportation focused on cruise ships from the US and found that in less than a year and a half, cruise liners reported:
      • 4 suspicious deaths
      • 6 thefts of $10,000 or more
      • 14 violent assaults that resulted in serious injuries
      • 62 sexual assaults


The maritime lawyers of Colson Hicks Eidson have helped our clients gain numerous multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for their injuries. This includes our work on behalf of multiple cruise ship passengers harmed onboard and for shore excursions. This also included an employee of Celebrity Cruises who suffered injuries after undergoing an unnecessary pacemaker surgery in Santo Domingo. In that case, Celebrity Cruises sent our client to Santo Domingo in an attempt to save money on his medical expenses. A jury in Miami found the cruise line to be negligent in the care and treatment they provided their employees. As a result, they awarded our client a $1 million verdict for his injuries. Our law firm also has experience representing a South Florida fisherman who suffered from a misdiagnosis of a marine bacterial infection. Other clients include many other Jones Act workers.


If you were injured at sea, or a loved one was killed in a fatal maritime accident, learn more about your ability to hold those responsible accountable. You may be entitled to gain compensation for medical bills, lost income, and more. Please contact a maritime lawyer at our firm today.

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At Colson Hicks Eidson, we are committed to providing our clients with the best possible legal representation in litigation. With our experienced attorneys, in-depth knowledge of the law, and commitment to our clients’ success, we are the go-to firm for complex civil litigation matters. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.