For most passengers, cruises can be a luxurious and relaxing adventure at sea. For others, the innocent excursion could be deadly.

Unfortunately, people dying on cruise ships is more common than you’d think. In fact, cruise ships are legally required to have a for this very reason. While most deaths on cruise ships are from natural causes, a family on a Royal Caribbean cruise learned the hard way that tragic accidents can happen, too.

A tragedy at sea

In July of 2019, an 18-month old toddler fell 150 feet from the 11th deck of Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas ship. Her grandfather had been holding her over the railing of the ship against what he believed was a closed window. Devastatingly, the window was not actually closed.

The family of the child is now filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Royal Caribbean. According to the family, the cruise line played a major role in the toddler’s death by failing to meet industry safety standards to prevent guests from falling out of windows.

The case argues that any passengers on the ship could open or close the windowpanes on the deck. The ship also provided no warning signs that the panes could open. The child’s grandfather, who is also colorblind, claims that he would never have placed the toddler by the window if he had known it was open.

How is fault determined?

With a wrongful death claim on a cruise ship, family members have to prove with strong evidence that the death was the result of cruise ship operator negligence. In maritime law, negligence or fault is based on whether a reasonably careful ship operator knew about the hazard.

In this case, the family of the toddler must prove that Royal Caribbean was aware that the windowpanes on their deck posed a risk to passengers. Additionally, they must also prove that the ship did not provide sufficient warning of this danger to its guests.

No one wants to think about the possibility of death on their vacation. However, if the worst does occur to your loved one on a cruise, it’s essential to know you have rights and options.