Ship Accident With Brain Injury

When you pay for a cruise ship to take you around the world for 260 days, you expect that the cruise line and to be experts at managing the ship. That’s what James Hausman of Springfield, Illinois, expected, along with his wife and daughter in 2011, when they followed some crew members through two sets of heavy automatic sliding glass doors. Upon reaching the entrance, the sensory adapted doors began to close on Hausman, hitting him in the temple and the side of the face.

“He was dazed,” his wife said. “There was a cut, and there was some blood, but you don’t think about it being as serious.”

It sounds like an anomaly that would never occur more than once–but after Hausman’s lawyer dug into the ships past they found that as many as 34 other sliding-door events had occurred throughout the fleets previous 3 years. Two of these instances passengers either broke their hips or suffered a back injury.

For Hausman, he was initially evaluated by the ship’s doctor who stated in reports that the man had suffered a facial contusion and a chipped tooth. Later, the doctor diagnosed a concussion and “post-concussion” syndrome. However, his attorney Rick Friedman said that neurological tests later showed Hausman had suffered a “minor traumatic brain injury (mTBI)” that left him prone to vertigo and has caused him to suffer seizures in which he “spaces out for a few seconds to a few minutes,” and that he frequently loses track of what he is saying and repeats himself. These problems still continue today.

Hausman sleeps a lot more than he did prior to the injury, but in some ways, “it’s an invisible injury” that’s much less noticeable to new people then to those who knew him previously said his wife. In fact, last year, Hausman had to sell his business because of the remaining effects from the 2011 injury.

The Judgement

A U.S. district Court jury in Seattle has awarded a whopping $21.5 million in damages to Hausman and his family. The verdict is one of the largest in recent memory out of a federal court in Seattle and it included $16.5 million in punitive damages against the ship’s owner Holland America. In addition to the punitive damages, Hausman was awarded $5 million for past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress.

The ship liner has filed documents asking the court to reduce the judgment as excessive. However, as stated before, their past history of incidents involving the glass doors along with expert witness testimony stating that the fleet was operating the ships doors against the manufacturer’s recommendation made the judgement equitable. His lawyer said the cruise line had the motion sensors on the doors set to open and close faster than normal, presumably to save on air-conditioning. As a result, the doors were set to open at the last moment and close a half a second after the sensors stopped detecting motion.

These experts also testified that there was no reasoning the doors should have hit someone and that it should be a “never event”. With the numerous incidences occurring around the sensory and timing of the doors, it’s obvious to see the ships negligence in safety. Simply blaming it on all of those passengers walking into the doors is worn-out.


Mild and severe traumatic brain injuries are serious, debilitating and deadly injuries resulting from trauma to the head. Often resulting from an array of accidents and falls, these injuries are not always easy to identify as shown in the story above.  Severe TBIs are easier to pick out because if one suffers a fractured skull, a brain bleed, or a coma due to an impact to the head, it’s obvious. However, one can also suffer a mild brain injury, which despite its names, should be taken as seriously as a severe TBI. Although they aren’t life threatening, they can have serious effects on one’s physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities. It is important to take these seriously because if left untreated or ignored, the injury could get worse and symptoms can intensify over time. Keep in mind that over 1 million Americans are afflicted by a traumatic brain injury each year and over 70,000 experience a long-term disability as a result.

More often than not, those who have suffered a mTBI are going against attorneys and companies who argue that any effects from the injury will not be long-standing in nature and should resolve quickly. While issues with memory, concentration, headache and fatigue may resolve within a year following the injury, some individuals still have persistent problems and require further treatment. Continually, some symptoms of a mTBI may not immediately present themselves are subtle in nature like a slight loss of smell, mood changes, or sensitivity to light and sound. Some symptoms and effects will last longer than others and every individual is different—what remains the same though is the way that defense attorneys will often try to attack your injuries and the true nature of your damages.

Dolman Law Group

The brain injury law attorneys at Dolman Law Group, are experienced with the tactics employed by insurance carriers, defense lawyers and negligent parties in combating such claims. We have clients who have suffered significant brain injuries and did not suffer any major impact to the head or lose consciousness like Hausman. A defendant would try to discredit someone who has no visible injury.

If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence you need to speak with attorneys that understand how hired attorneys and insurance companies will attempt to defend against your case. Often times the visible injuries of suffering from minor traumatic brain injuries are not as obvious as a cut, scrape or bruise. Due to this, you must ensure that you seek assistance from an attorney who can use your medical records to clearly demonstrate to the insurance company and defense attorney that extent of your damages. The attorneys at Dolman Law Group are skilled in just that. Call us today at (727) 451-6900.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900



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