A Cruise Ship Accident … A Matter of Maritime Law

A great example of a situation that requires maritime law expertise is the accident that occurred at the beginning of this year with the cruise ship Thomson Majesty, a story that seems to repeat itself.

While the ship was docked in Santa Cruz de La Palma, five crew members died and three others were injured when a lifeboat fell into the sea while performing a safety drill. The lifeboat fell from a height of 20 meters with eight crew members inside and was overturned on the sea surface. Five crew members drowned. Three of the dead were from Indonesia, one was from the Philippines and one was from Ghana, according to a report by the Guardia Civil (Spanish Police) in charge of the accident investigation.

The three crew members that were injured had managed to jump out of the boat before it hit the water. The two that had serious injuries and were hospitalized were from Greece. The third wounded crew member was a Filipino who had only minor injuries, was treated by an ambulance crew, and discharged.

The ship is the Thomson Majesty, of the British company Thomson Cruises, which is based in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The 20-year-old ship is managed on Thomson’s behalf by a company called Louis Cruises, based in Cyprus. The cruise ship sails along the Canary and Madeira Islands which belong to Spain and Portugal respectively. It usually stops on Sundays in Santa Cruz de La Palma. The British company said “There was an incident involving the ship’s crew during a safety drill. Our thoughts are with the families of those involved“. The company also pointed out that it is "working closely with the ship owners and managers, Louis Cruises, to determine exactly what happened".

Meanwhile, the British Foreign Ministry said that it has been informed and is investigating the accident.
This unfortunate event happened during a simulation. What would have happened if the incident had taken place during a real emergency? Surely the deaths would have multiplied.

What are the legal issues that arise when analyzing this event?

It is common in cruise ship accidents to wonder about which laws are to be applied. In this case, three crew members from Indonesia, one from the Philippines, and one from Ghana, drowned and died. Two crew members from Greece were seriously injured. The owner of the ship is a British company, the administrator is a Cypriot company and the event occurred in Spain. This is characteristic of maritime law cases. Most lawyers without maritime expertise do not know how to obtain money compensation for the victims in this type of case. Therefore, it is essential to hire maritime law attorneys who are highly experienced and specialize in cases of this nature. For more information about maritime law issues, contact https://www.sealaw.com/contact-us.

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