What are your rights when you set sail?

1:33 PM, Feb 15, 2013   |    comments
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A small boat belonging to the Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous patrols near the cruise ship Carnival Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico, Feb. 11, 2013. AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard- Lt. Cmdr. Paul McConnell
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Tampa, Florida - As we see the images of what it was like inside the disabled Carnival Cruise ship Triumph, it makes you wonder what our rights are as passengers.

We talked with a maritime attorney from Morgan & Morgan about your rights before you set sail.

It's not the vacation they planned. Almost 4,000 passengers couldn't wait to get off the Triumph cruise ship after a miserable week at sea. Carnival reimbursed passengers for the four-day cruise, gave them discounts for future cruises and $500 in compensation.

But is that enough?

"Some people might take that and be done, 'I'm OK, I'll move on, this was a week.' Others will be a bit more traumatized, a bit more angry. Some people save up a long time to go on a trip like this," says maritime attorney Adam Brum.

He says passengers do have rights and can sue. You do, however, sign an agreement that you can't bring this claim as a class action lawsuit... but you can bring a claim based on your own situation.

"If they have personal injuries, if something happened on the boat, there wasn't medical treatment, maybe they sat around and suffered for several days... they might have a personal injury claim. Other types of claims -- negligent infliction of emotional distress, post traumatic stress disorder, inconvenience -- is going to be more of an arbitration type issue."

The four-day cruise turned into eight. That means people missed several days of work.

"There's a thing called an economic loss rule, and it's going to be difficult to get your lost wages due to negligence of this cruise," says Brum. He adds there are people looking into legislation that would start protecting passengers.

"The International Marine Organization is looking into a passenger rights' type bill similar to the one made for airlines."

Passengers have up to a year to make an individual claim, but that doesn't mean it's going to be resolved in a year. That could take a bit longer.

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