It cannot be said enough—you need to make sure you are insured! You would not drive a car without insurance. Hopefully you are able to afford health insurance. And you better make sure you have business insurance as well as a separate errors and omissions policy. Why? Well that can be told in two simple words…
It is a tragic, horrible accident* that should never happen to anyone. A child lost their life and the family must find a way to go on. The passengers who witnessed this accident must find a way to go on. And Royal Caribbean must also find a way to go on.
While I do not know how the family booked their cruise, they have already lawyered-up and are looking for someone to compensate them for their loss. There are vastly different descriptions of what happened. Some say that the grandfather was dangling the child over the side and lost his grip. The family attorney is saying that the child was in some sort of childcare and there was an open window when she fell out. He was unequivocal that someone was going to pay.
Of course the first shot will be towards Royal Caribbean, I am sure the Port of San Juan will become involved, and if booked through an agent—you can be sure they will be involved as well. Why?
The agent…the person they turned to for expert advice, did not tell them of the inherent dangers of open windows on a cruise ship (or something similar). Are we now to run down a list of potential hazards? Perhaps. McDonald’s now labels their coffee warning that it may be hot because of a lawsuit.
And I don’t think anyone expects a litany of hazards on a cruise ship…how long has the mayonnaise been out, don’t drink too much, don’t go below deck with a crewmember, do not be late for the ship, etc. Some you certainly should (I suggest emphasizing the don’t be late for the ship and no fraternizing with the help), but most, you will not. And that is exactly where your errors and omissions insurance comes in.
For just a few hundred dollars per year, the attorneys for your insurance company will fight this battle for you. And as long as you were not negligent or deceitful, and any potential judgment does not exceed the limits of your policy, you should be good to go.
Now, while this is still fresh in your mind, why not make that call to your insurance agent to update and check your coverage? Many commercial policies will not cover errors and omissions for travel agencies and you will need to work with a special agency that specifically deals with the travel industry.
Since most agencies today are smaller and home based, there is an awful lot to lose if you end up on the wrong side of a legal battle.
* And since I have a platform. I am so tired of lawsuits. Everywhere you turn people are looking to sue one another. What happened to the concept of a simple accident? Yes, some are tragic; but others are less so. I laud the parents of the child who was killed by an alligator at Disney World a few years back. They had no intention or desire to sue and realized that (as tragic and heart wrenching as it was), it was an accident. I wish the world had more of them!