Cruise Passenger Burn Victim James BailyNewspapers in the U.K. and Australia are covering a horrific story involving a 28 year old man who was reportedly sailing on an Amsterdam "booze cruise" when he awoke in the ship’s bar on fire.

Cruise passenger James Bailey had what he describes as a "few drinks" and fell asleep in the cruise ship’s bar on the deck 8.  Most of his cruise mates who were on what is being called a "stag party" cruise were either asleep or back in their cabins.

According to the Daily Mail, Mr. Bailey stated: ‘I suddenly awoke in extreme agony and quickly realized my clothes were on fire. The bartender assisted in removing my shirt and putting out the flames."  His back and hands were severely burned.

There were a group of 20 to 30 people in the bar when the incident occurred.

The cruise staff refused his requests for an air ambulance claiming that his injuries were not deemed serious enough for emergency medical treatment.  

The cruise ship was operated by DFDS Seaways which denies liability for what happened and would not comment. 

Mr. Bailey states that he suffers from first, second and third degree burns, as well as psychological trauma.  He adds that "I have no idea what happened that night. As it stands there is no one to blame, so I can only blame myself right now until other evidence is found."

In the U.S., there is a legal principle called "Res Ipsa Loquitor," which is Latin for "the thing speaks for itself."  This a legal doctrine that a company or person is presumed to be negligent if they had exclusive control of whatever caused the injury even though there is no specific evidence of an act of negligence, and without negligence the accident would not have happened.

Short of spontaneous combustion, Mr. Bailey obviously did not catch himself on fire.

Cruise ships cannot legally serve passengers alcohol until they pass out in the ship bars and then permit other passengers or crew members to catch their guests on fire.  

There are some very gruesome photos of Mr. Bailey on the Daily Mail site, but be warned that they are disturbing.

DFDS Cruise Ship - Cruise Ship Passenger Burned

Photo Credits:

James Baily – Sam Hardie via Daily Mail

DFDS cruise ship – Daily Mail 

  • Alan Bowen

    Res Ipsa Loquitor is also an old English Common Law concept but notoriously difficult to prove. The English courts take the view that if there could be any other possible cause, and I would suggest there may be many in this case, then the concept is not proven. These cruises are notorious for the level of alcohol consumed and the prices are so cheap, currently the same cruise is available for £79, around $120 for two people including two nights accommodation, that they tend to attract those who intend to do nothing but drink for 12 hours each way.
    If the customer had his own travel insurance, the insurers could have taken a view on whether a sea rescue was safer or more dangerous than leaving him on board the vessel and the story suggests he took more than 24 hours after arrival in port to seek hospital treatment. I suspect the carrier does indeed have CCTV footage which will be released if and when any legal action is commenced. Although we do have no-win, no fee lawyers in England then tend to only accept ‘certain win’ cases and this appears to be a lomg way from a certain win