The Learn About the Law (LATL) content team walks a fine line. We take pride in churning out authoritative, up-to-date articles and resources to help you make smart legal decisions, but we're also careful not to jump on the bandwagon just because something is popular at the moment. Our blog team does a bang-up job with breaking legal news, much of it focused on popular culture and current events.
Our corner of FindLaw.com is more like a user manual for all things legal, which is not to say LATL content decisions cannot be informed by the headlines. The key is to spot emerging legal trends and issues that will remain relevant for a while, even as the actual news becomes tomorrow's fish-wrap.
Take, for example, the recent Carnival cruise ship debacle in which passengers were left stranded for five days without electricity or running water.
Naturally, aggrieved passengers filed lawsuits (failure to provide a seaworthy ship, among other claims). But this is hardly the first time a large cruise ship has been blamed for passenger injuries (by running aground, or by infecting hundreds with a nauseating virus, for example). Additionally, as a February 15 NPR article pointed out, vessels have doubled in size since luxury cruise ships first appeared more than four decades ago--thus "supersizing" such problems.
In other words, we saw this as a legal trend begging for some practical consumer information. One of our Audience Team managers first alerted us to the volume of cruise ship-related searches on our site and asked if we had any relevant content. Admittedly, we did not.
So we took the opportunity to overhaul our Travel and Aviation Accidents section by adding several new articles and redesigning the welcome page to reflect this broadened coverage. But we didn't stop at Cruise Ship Accidents and Liability and Cruise Ship Injury Claims. Turns out, tour bus accidents also are quite common and bring up unique questions pertaining to liability.
What tour buses and cruise ships (along with commercial airplanes, commuter trains, and taxis) all have in common is the legal classification of "common carrier," defined as an entity whose business involves the transport of people or goods from one point to another for a fee. Our new What is a Common Carrier? article explains the liability of such entities, the importance of evidence in claiming damages, and other important legal pointers.
Once the new articles were written, edited, and published (and the welcome page was cleaned up!), our social media guru tweeted them to our followers. It was truly a team effort, and we went from concept to final product in less than a week.
We sincerely hope you never find yourself adrift in the high seas, or banged up from a tour bus collision. But if you do, we'll help you figure out what to do next.