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Royal Caribbean Fire: 2,200 to Get Refunds

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By Betty Wang, JD on May 28, 2013 11:01 AM

A Royal Caribbean cruise leaving from Baltimore caught fire onboard early Monday at around 3:00 a.m. According to The Associated Press, there were more than 2,200 guests aboard whose trip aboard had to be cut short.

All of the passengers will be flying home from Freeport, where the ship was redirected to for evaluation. Their flights will be comped, on top of the refunds they will receive for this cruise and a certificate toward another cruise in the future.

No medical emergencies have been reported thus far. But, can any possibly disgruntled passengers aboard this cruise take legal action, if they wanted to?

Yes. Well, maybe.

Check your ticket

The first thing you should do to determine your rights in a potential cruise ship lawsuit is to check your ticket. Your ticket contains all the terms you agree to when you purchase the cruise. This includes what rights you as a passenger are entitled to, and will determine whether or not there has been a breach of contract if those rights have been violated.

Your ticket will also include details about what steps need to be taken legally if you find there is an injury that you want to sue for. This is usually comprised of a list of steps you as a passenger would need to take first. It might contain certain requirements like providing written notice and bringing your claim in a certain period of time.

Duty to passengers

Once it has been determined that there is a violation of your rights, or some type of injury that you want to sue for, there are a number of theories that are then relevant to determining what exactly you want to go forward with.

Generally, you should start with the fact that cruise ships owe a duty to passengers. Established under the U.S. Supreme Court case, the Kermarec rule states that the ships must provide reasonable care to passengers.

While determining what's reasonable and what's not is usually left up to the courts, this rule also ensures that you would at least have determined the first requirement in a negligence claim. From there, one would need to establish that that duty has been breached, that the injury was caused by that breach, and that there are damages that you are owed compensation for.

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