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Jury Awards $1.3 Million Compensation for a Trip and Fall Injury on a Cruise Ship

A jury in Florida has awarded a sixty-seven year old woman $1.3 million compensation for a trip and fall injury on a cruise ship on Christmas Eve 2014.

On the morning of 24th December 2014, Joan Higgs was a passenger on a Costa Cruise ship in the eastern Caribbean at Grand Turk when she tripped and fell over a bucket that had been left unattended in the dining area as she walked back from the ship’s breakfast buffet toward her daughter’s table.

As a result of her fall, Joan suffered injuries to her left arm and shoulder, including a broken elbow. She had to have twelve screws inserted to repair the broken elbow, additional surgery to heal the injury to her shoulder and six months of physiotherapy to regain the full facility of her arm.

After receiving treatment for her injuries, Joan claimed compensation for a trip and fall injury on a cruise ship against the owners of the Costa Cruise shipping line, Costa Crociere S.P.A. In her legal action, Joan alleged that there had been a failure to maintain the ship in a reasonably safe condition.

In support of her claim for compensation for a trip and fall injury on a cruise ship, Joan´s lawyer engaged the services of a maritime safety expert who gave the opinion that using cleaning buckets full of water violated cruise ship industry standards and that yellow hazard signs should have been placed beside the buckets to warn passengers of the risk of injury.

Costa Crociere S.P.A. denied liability for Joan´s injuries. The company argued that Joan could not prove that she tripped over a bucket nor identify exactly what had caused her fall. Lawyers for the defense claimed that Joan was the author of her own misfortune because she was not looking where she was going and that video surveillance proved she was overstating the extent of her ongoing pain and suffering.

The case went to the U.S. District Court, Southern District, in Fort Lauderdale, where a jury found in Joan´s favor. The jury awarded her $1,316,326 compensation for a trip and fall injury on a cruise ship – reducing the award by 15% to account for her comparative negligence.