Over the years, traveling by ship has been a mainstay of American vacationers. For those who prefer traveling by water, cruises are a very popular way of relaxing and traveling to interesting destinations. These days, the cruise lines compete for passengers and dollars with many amenities that cannot be found in other travel experiences. But what happens when a person is on a cruise and has a medical emergency? If you are out at sea and have a life threatening illness or event, what is the cruise line’s responsibility to get medical help for you?
That is one question that may be answered in a legal action that has been brought against Holland America, one of the most well-known cruise lines in the world. A woman is claiming that because the cruise line did not bring in an urgent airlift for her, the stroke she suffered was worse than it otherwise would have been. She suffered severe brain damage that has altered her life. She no longer lives at home and has difficulty with basic movement and speech.
The injured passenger’s complaint alleges that the stroke occurred about four hours into the trip and that she was assessed by a physician on board the ship. He recommended that she be taken to a facility that could run a CT scan on her brain to determine the extent of the damage. It appeared to him that she had either had a stroke, or a brain aneurysm. Either of these conditions could result in severe brain injury. Instead of airlifting her to shore, a boat was sent to get her. Rather, the cruise line sent her on this boat to the Bahamas. This took several hours and when she arrived, she was unable to get the scan since the facilities there did not have a CT machine. The passenger was not flown to Florida until the next day since no flights were leaving the Bahamas when she arrived in the middle of the night.