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Onboard medical malpractice has new litigation potential

Thousands of people choose to go on cruises each year, but, despite their positive aspects, some people in Maryland worry about what might happen if they are injured or become ill while at sea. Fortunately, many cruise companies now have onboard urgent care centers staffed with doctors and nurses. Another fortunate development is a recent ruling that provides legal recourse to those who suffer medical malpractice while on board a cruise ship.

The ruling stems from one man's death. He reportedly fell while on a cruise and sought medical attention on the ship. However, he tragically slipped into a coma and died a week later. The man's daughter now claims that his death was caused by the onboard health care providers who were unable to provide her father with a timely and adequate diagnosis.

As a result, the woman has filed a lawsuit against the cruise line. A federal judge initially dismissed her claim under the longstanding legal precedent that protected cruise lines from litigation in regards to negligent medical care provided by their onboard health care providers. However, an appellate court judge has recently ruled that the cruise line can be held liable for the negligence.

Regardless of the setting, people in Maryland should be able to expect that their medical care providers adequately diagnose and treat their ailments. In some cases, such as this one, failure to do so can have deadly consequences, leaving family members dealing with both their grief and the financial ramifications of their loved one's unexpected death. This latest ruling could open more doors to holding those believed to be guilty of medical malpractice accountable for the consequences of their negligence.

Source:, "Suing Cruise Ship Doctors for Medical Malpractice", Spencer Aronfeld, Nov. 25, 2014

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