On behalf of Hastings Law Firm posted in Doctor Errors on Monday, November 17, 2014.

Exploring the open waters of the world’s ocean on a cruise ship is a popular vacation option for many people in both Texas and across the United States. However, what happens when a passenger falls ill or is involved in a serious accident, and the ship’s medical staff don’t attend to him or her as needed? A 1988 ruling that provided cruise liners immunity may no longer stand, opening the door for victims and their families to seek medical malpractice claims.

As technology has advanced by virtual leaps and bounds, an appeals court ruled that the previous 1988 ruling was effectively outdated, and did not apply to the current reality in which cruise ships function. This decision is likely good news for the family of a victim who died after suffering a head injury while on a cruise in 2011. While the cruise ship had pulled into port somewhere in Bermuda, the victim suffered a blow to the head.

Allegedly, the onboard nurse provided very little treatment. It wasn’t until four hours had passed that the cruise ship’s doctor finally examined him. The next day, the man had to be airlifted off of the cruise ship for treatment at a hospital in the United States. Unfortunately, due to the nature of his injuries, he died only a week after arriving at the hospital.

The victim’s daughter will now be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim for negligence against the cruise line Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean will not be able to utilize the 1988 immunity ruling, which will likely make pursuing justice for her father significantly less overwhelming. Texas families who have lost a loved one on a cruise ship because of serious medical negligence or substandard care may be interested to learn of the recently struck down immunity, as this could potentially re-open the door for certain claims or suits.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Court ruling reinstates negligence suit against cruise line”, Hugo Martin, Nov. 13, 2014