A young boy drowned while aboard a Carnival Cruise, reportedly the first time a child has drowned aboard one of the company's ships.
Qwentyn Hunter, 6, of Winter Garden, Florida, was a passenger aboard the Carnival Victory. He was with his older brother in one of the pool areas when the incident occurred Sunday.
Hunter was pronounced dead at the scene despite attempts to perform CPR once he was pulled from the water, according to CBS News. Police say the drowning appeared to be an accident.
Police Investigate Boy's Drowning
Hunter's drowning death while on the cruise ship may seem peculiar, but there are any number of ways that passengers can injure themselves while aboard a cruise ship.
In fact, this isn't the first time this year that a pool incident aboard a cruise ship has made headlines. The Orlando Sentinel reports that a 4-year-old nearly drowned in a pool on a Disney cruise in March; the child suffered severe brain damage.
In Hunter's case, even if his drowning was an accident, what legal rights do Hunter's parents have against the Carnival cruise company?
Carnival's Liability for Death
In general, claims for injuries or deaths while aboard a cruise ship would fall under either common carrier liability -- similar to liability for planes and trains -- or under maritime law.
Since many cruise ships accidents occur outside of U.S. waters and aboard ships that are not registered in the United States, maritime law typically rules. Under maritime law, cruise ships are generally not responsible for injuries unless they were caused by an unsafe condition that the ship's operator knew or should have known about.
This determination also depends on the location of the ship when the accident occurred, as different countries have different laws regarding how much one can receive in damages from a cruise liner.
If they choose to pursue litigation, the Hunters would likely have to file a wrongful death suit within a year or so, depending on Carnival's ticket policy. However, they could potentially face a difficult challenge in proving that the company somehow violated its duty of care to the boy, causing his death.
- Carnival: Boy, 6, Drowns in Pool on Cruise (The Associated Press)
- Carnival Cruise Lawsuit Seeks Class Action Status (FindLaw's Injured)
- Do Cruise Ships Have a Passenger's Bill of Rights? (FindLaw's Injured)
- Cruise Line Sued for Not Saving Stranded Fisherman (FindLaw's Injured)