Because vessels are considered to be dangerous, those who operate them are held to high standards in handling and using them. Liability for accidents is attributed to the individual operating such a vehicle at the time of an accident although an owner may also be held liable if present at the time such an incident occurs.
Operators are primarily responsible for generating reports in the event of any incidents leading to a disappearance, death or injury. However, an owner may be required to issue such a report if the operator in not able. A vessel operator or owner must also file a written report if property damages in excess of $2,000 occur. In some cases, supplemental reports may be required if original reports lack necessary details.
Additionally, authorities investigating on behalf of a law agency are expected to submit accident reports within a 24-hour period of an accident investigation. These official reports should include information about the time, date and location of an accident. Furthermore, officers filing such reports must provide descriptions of vessels involved, information about the individuals involved and details about witnesses.
Such reports may be used to inform news agencies but may not be used for solicitation on a commercial level. Witness reports and statements made to officers completing reports are not considered admissible as evidence at trial, but an officer may testify about statements made by witnesses. Toxicology results are not considered confidential and may be used in court.
Because civil liability depends on the operation of a vessel, individuals dealing with injuries or loss after cruise ship accidents may wonder about the appropriate approach to dealing with civil matters involving such incidents. The insight of an experienced attorney who is familiar with vessel laws in the state may be helpful for providing an overview of the options available.
Source: The Florida Senate, “327.301 Written reports of accidents“, September 29, 2014