Cruises to Alaska have become a booming business. It is estimated that more than 1.36 million tourists will visit Alaska in 2019 via cruise ship. This is a huge influx of people in a state with fewer than 750,000 residents. Such a rise in popularity creates the potential, however, for a larger chance for accidents, sickness, and other injuries. Recovering for these types of injuries can often be complicated because there are factors at play beyond Alaskan law.


Common Cruise Ship Injuries 

When you take a cruise, you are paying significant sums of money and you expect to have a good trip. You assume that the company transporting you will keep you safe from harm.  However, cruises present many opportunities for injury. Many of these can occur aboard ship.  Examples include:

  • Food-borne illness
  • Crimes such as assault and rape
  • Drowning
  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Mechanical injuries
  • Injuries caused by ship equipment


Moreover, injuries can be caused outside of the ship. These include injuries caused on-shore or on the way to shore such as:

  • Vehicular accidents
  • Activity accidents (such as while hiking or viewing wildlife)
  • Small boat accidents while transferring passengers to port
  • Injuries caused by negligence of ship employees
  • ATV accidents


Where the Accident Occurs Matters

The fact that injuries can happen both on-ship and off is important if you are the injured party. Why is this? Different sets of laws apply to injuries that happen on the ship as opposed to those that happen on shore. In general, injuries that happen on ship will be governed by maritime law and those that occur on land will be covered by applicable Alaskan law.


What is Maritime Law?

Maritime law, simply put, is federal law that applies to activities that take place on the sea. The difference in laws is important for several reasons. U.S. law provides that jurisdiction for maritime claims falls to the federal court system. The federal court system operates under a different set of rules than the state court system. Furthermore, precedence (prior court decisions) may be different in the federal system than in the state system. This means that there might be a difference in what is required to prove a case in federal court as compared to a state case.  While they are typically similar, this may not always be the case. Maritime law will also generally apply to injuries sustained when passengers are being transferred to and from the ship to port or shore via a launch or tender (types of small boats). Maritime law will most likely also apply if the passengers have been taken into fresh water on an excursion, as maritime laws control any navigable waters.


Injuries on Shore

If the injuries happen on-shore, Alaska law will usually apply. If the cruise company takes passengers to port and an injury occurs, the appropriate Alaska courts will usually have jurisdiction.


Cruise ship injuries can often create complex situations. Just imagine a situation in which a passenger is injured on-board and taken to shore for treatment where he or she is injured further. The complexities can be astounding. However, a skilled personal injury attorney can help navigate the complications that can arise. The experienced legal professionals at Power & Power Law are licensed to practice in both Alaska state court and federal court, and have years of experience in resolving personal injury claims for their clients, including cruise ship passengers. If you have been injured, give them a call at either 833-669-9990 or at 907-222-9990 or click here to set up your initial consultation and see what they can do for you.