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Cruise Ship Liabilities
Coleman Legal LLP
Jul 25, 2016

Cruise Ship AccidentsCruise Ship Liabilities

The International Maritime Organisation is the united nations agency that is responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution.

The IMO adopted the Athens Convention relating to the carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea.

This Convention declares that a carrier is liable for damage or loss suffered by a passenger if the damage caused was during the course of the carriage and caused by fault or neglect carried out by the carrier.

In 2002 a protocol was adopted by the Athens Convention making insurance to cover passengers on ships compulsory and it also raised the limits of liability.  The 2002 protocol was put in motion in Ireland on the 7th of November 2014

Liability limits are set in Special Drawing Rights; these are a mix of different currency values established by the international monetary fund.

EU Regulation

Regulation 392/2009 on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of accidents applies in all European Union and EEA member states:

  • This regulation explains the rules of the liability and insurance for the carriage of passengers by sea, based on:
    • The Athens Convention as amended by the 2002 Protocol
    • The IMO 206 Guidelines.

Rules re International Voyages

The regulation applies to all international voyages where:

• The ship is flying a member state flag or is registered in a member state
• The contract of the carriage was signed in a member state
• The place of departure or arrival is situated within a member state

The Regulation can also apply to domestic sea voyages.

Death or Injury to passengers on a cruise ship

When loss is suffered as a result of the death of or personal injury to a passenger caused by a shipping incident the carrier is strictly liable for up to 250,000 SDRs.

A shipping incident can be in the form of a capsize, shipwreck, collision, stranding, fire or explosion on the ship or a defect in the ship itself.

If the loss or damage exceeds 250,000 SDRs the carriers can be liable up to a new limit of 400,00 SDRs, unless the carrier can prove they were not at fault. If the loss was not as a result of a shipping incident and the passenger can prove fault or negligence, the ship is liable up to a limit of 400,000 SDRs. The carrier and passenger are entitled to agree on a higher limit

Death or personal injury caused by a shipping incident forces the carrier to give an advanced payment out within 15 days to cover any financial needs.  The minimum advanced payment for death is €21,000.  Any advanced payment given out is not an admission of liability.

Carrier Insurance

Ships carrying more than 12 people are required to have insurance in place or another type of financial plan to cover liabilities of up to 250,000 SDRs per passenger.

A claim for compensation may be brought directly against the insurer.

Information for Passengers if you have an accident on a cruise ship

Each passenger must be informed by the carrier clearly of what their rights are under this regulation

The information must be provided in the most appropriate format:

• At all points of sale, included via telephone or internet where the contract is signed in a member state
• Prior to departing from a member state
• Upon departing in all other cases
*Any legal action taken to claim compensation for the death of or a personal injury to a passenger must be taken within 2 years of the negligence

If you or a loved one have been the victim of personal injury or death resulting from a cruise ship accident, contact our personal injury solicitors to discuss whether you are entitled to compensation.

Contact Coleman Legal Partners


Keith Rolls Partner Coleman Legal LLP

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