Ruling reverses decades-old medical malpractice limitation

No one who goes on a cruise really expects that they will get sick or injured on the journey. Still, it is nice to know that cruise ships have doctors and nurses on board who can treat illnesses or injuries that do occur. Until recently, those doctors and nurses effectively operated independently because of a ruling almost 30 years ago that gave immunity to the cruise lines in the event of medical malpractice aboard a ship.

In a ruling that came from the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, that immunity has been reversed. In that ruling, the court said that the 1988 decision was outdated, partly because of the considerable updates and advances in technology. The judge who made the recent ruling noted that the medical facilities on cruise ships are for-profit operations. These facilities on the ship are usually the only option that passengers have when they need medical care.

The case at the center of this ruling involves a man who fell and hit his head on the Explorer of the Seas. That fall in 2011 led to his death days later. While on board the ship, he was cared for by a nurse, but had to wait several hours before a doctor came to see him.

This ruling doesn’t necessarily mean that cruise ships are liable for medical malpractice. It does, however, give cruise passengers a chance to seek compensation if they are injured because of medical negligence on a cruise. South Carolina residents who have been victims of medical malpractice on a cruise might need to consider finding out if this ruling affects their case.

Source: Travel Pulse, “Court Ruling Revives Negligence Case Against Cruise Lines” Patrick Clarke, Nov. 18, 2014