Offshore InjuryBlog

Arnold & Itkin Files Suit Against Royal Caribbean

On February 7, 2016, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas encountered a violent storm on its voyage. Touted as one the most technologically advanced cruise ships in the world, the newest mega ship for Royal Caribbean set sail toward very strong winds and large waves—despite clear warnings about the severe weather.

What could have been a modern Titanic story turned out to be a sigh of relief for Royal Caribbean. While their Anthem of the Seas fared modestly well throughout the heavy winds and high waves, passengers suddenly found their luxury vacation turning into a significantly more violent experience.

As one writer from The New York Times reported, “There were two things that happened during the storm that made me begin to believe that my life was in jeopardy. The first involved a tilt of the ship that came so hard and so fast that I was completely knocked off my bed and onto the floor. It gave me some insight into how extreme the winds and seas we’d encountered were at the time.”

One such passenger has turned to Arnold & Itkin for justice. He suffering injuries to his face, torso, and hands—as well as a head injury that caused him to lose consciousness. With two aneurysms, this was no small bump to the head. Had those aneurysms been struck during the violent rolling and pitching, he could have lost his life during what should have been a relaxing, tropical getaway. Even more discouragingly, our client received extremely poor care from the cruise ship’s medical team following his injuries.

The maritime law attorneys from the team at Arnold & Itkin have since brought forward a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean on behalf of our client for the damages he suffered due to the cruise line’s blatant negligence.

You can read more in this CNN article.

Forecasts Loom Over Anthem of the Seas

As cruise ship accident lawyers, we understand that the temperament of the sea can be vastly unpredictable. Often, a crew of a ship may find themselves at the mercy of nature without the slightest warning.

This was not the case for Anthem of the Seas.

The storm the ship headed into was well-forecasted, giving Royal Caribbean plenty of time to change or adjust their schedule and route. Instead, they chose to send passengers and crew into harsh wind and waves.

Concerns Over Lack of Storm Avoidance Practices

Royal Caribbean has responded to the incident by saying they have now updated their storm avoidance policy and added additional resources to provide more support and guidance to captains. Why does it take a near-tragic encounter with a violent storm to prompt a major cruise ship line to add more safety features? Why weren’t these systems in place ahead of time on this technologically advanced vessel? Doesn’t common sense tell Royal Caribbean to avoid placing its passengers into harm’s way? Unfortunately, this is not as shocking as it should be to our team at Arnold & Itkin.

As offshore injury lawyers, we see this type of recklessness all too often. In the recent case of El Faro, this negligence resulted in much more tragic results. The company knowingly allowed the captain to sail the cargo vessel toward Hurricane Joaquin—despite having time to adjust the route. The El Faro eventually succumbed to the heavy winds and waves, sinking to the bottom of the ocean and taking the lives of 33 mariners with it.

Fighting for family members connected to El Faro, we are seeking to hold owner TOTE responsible. Following the incident, TOTE officials outfitted their entire fleet with new weather reporting systems. While we are encouraged to know this may prevent future incidents, we still question why this wasn’t installed before the El Faro’s crew drowned.

Why does it take such a serious tragedy or near-devastating incident for ship owners to respond with increased safety measures? In the case of Royal Caribbean: Who is providing a customer service? Shouldn’t their focus be all the more on creating a fun, safe environment for passengers? Arnold & Itkin thinks so.

“As we file this lawsuit, a Marine Board hearing in Jacksonville, Florida is under way with the goal of discovering why 33 mariners perished when the cargo ship El Faro foundered during Hurricane Joaquin,” said Attorney Jason Itkin. “It suggests an alarming trend of ship operators risking lives in order to maintain tight schedules and guard profits.”

Taking a Stand Against Cruise Lines

As we seek justice, we know that this will be a challenging legal battle. Cruise lines are notorious for having taken steps inside and outside the courtroom to make it extremely difficult for injured passengers to seek relief.

We are prepared for these challenges and will not back down for these key reasons:

  • Cruise ship passengers have the right to know that they waive their right to sue a cruise line for a wide range of issues when they buy that ticket. Most people never realize this is in the fine print.
  • Many passengers do not understand how severely limited the medical care capabilities of a ship can be—even those a cruise may market as safe and fun.
  • People with medical conditions need to know that they may be taking their lives into their own hands when boarding a cruise ship.

“We want to send a warning to cruise lines that they shouldn’t take risks with the lives of their passengers,” said Attorney Jason Itkin. “We believe Royal Caribbean was under financial pressure to start the cruise on time. They took a calculated risk when they sent their passengers into the storm, and we don’t think the passengers should be the ones that pay for Royal Caribbean’s lack of judgement.”

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