Attorney Profile - John H. (Jack) Hickey

Personal Injury
Cruise Ship Lawyers

By Lynn Shapiro, Staff Writer

November 10, 2014 was a triumphal day for Trial and Maritime attorney, John (Jack) H. Hickey, who is one of the top Miami-based personal injury attorneys—and also a globally renowned admiralty/maritime lawyer.

It was on that day that the groundbreaking Federal appeals court decision, Franza v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., overturned a lower court’s 1988 decision, ruling that passengers can’t sue cruise ship owners for their doctors’ medical malpractice.

In Franza, the Eleventh Circuit Court—comprising the three state jurisdictions of Florida, Georgia and Alabama—overturned this ruling.

Franza concluded that cruise ship owners must be held liable for their physicians’ malpractice, especially given the fact that the market for pleasure cruises has snowballed since the 1988 opinion was written.

Nine Million Passengers a Year

It’s estimated that more than 9 million passengers board cruise ships from North American ports every year, many in Miami, where Hickey is at the center of the action.

“It’s crucial that cruise line companies are held accountable for their doctors’ malpractice,” Hickey told, Editor-in-Chief, Larry Bodine, in an interview following the appellate court victory for cruise ship passengers. (/blog/what-do-if-you-get-sick-cruise-ship.)

“Cruise line doctors under-diagnose cases to keep the passenger onboard the ship.—they have a financial incentive to do this.

“Or the cruise line captain decides in the middle of nowhere to off-load a passenger without arranging for medical care.

“My advice: if you’re sick or injured, get back to US.

“The best way to do that is to take out travel insurance that arranges for an air ambulance before the trip,” Hickey told Bodine.

One key point for passengers who have been hurt on a cruise or on an excursion – you must bring your claim in the place specified by your ticket. 

For major cruise ships, such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Norwegian cruise lines, that’s Miami, Florida – no matter where the ship left from or went to.

Also, the statute of limitations for maritime law, is only one year. This means consumers need to call an attorney promptly after an incident.

Accidents on Excursions

Multiple accidents occur on excursions off of cruise ships – particularly in the transportation of passengers, whether it’s a zip line that breaks or a bus that careens off the side of a mountain.

Off-cruise excursions often take place in third world countries, where the transportation is not up to US safety regulations, Hickey says.

Hickey also handles cases where cruise passengers tragically disappear at sea while on vacation.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault on cruise ships is rampant, Hickey says, because their personnel hire young seaman, who are forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week for less than the minimum wage.

This includes seamen from the Baltic States and nearby countries of Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Latvia, Serbia, and Hungary.  

“They employ people from these nations because the unemployment rate in these countries is high and the wages are low,” Hickey says.
“The crewmembers are working around the passengers who are relaxed and on vacation and are encouraged to socialize with them.

“The trusting relationship that forms between passengers and crewmembers; the isolation at sea; and the lack of police presence onboard cruise ships (all of the security is minimal and are security guards are hired by the cruise lines) combine to create a dangerous environment, Hickey tells

Trial lawyers, Jack Hickey and his colleague, Bjorg Eikeland, handle the majority of cruise ship assaults and rape cases at Hickey Law.

“Cruise lines are prepared to fight your claim with powerful legal representation. Make sure you have equally strong experience and leadership on your side,” Hickey tells his clients.

By Land and By Sea

Hickey is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and take on the high-stakes cases in the broad range of specialties he’s chosen, including: personal injury, wrongful death, maritime accidents, cruise ship and diving accidents, motor vehicle and trucking accidents, slip and falls, negligent security, premises liability, product liability, whistleblower cases and medical malpractice. 

He tries these cases, not only in Miami, but throughout the state.

Hickey Reverses Course

Hickey was born and raised in Miami.  He went to Miami Palmetto senior high school and graduated from Florida State University and from Duke Law School. 

He spent the first half of his 35-year career defending large insurance companies and cruise ships in personal injury disputes, as well as trying cases in commercial litigation.

At the 17-year mark, Hickey decided he could no longer defend the corporate Goliaths, including the insurance companies he had been representing.

His calling, he realized, was helping those meritorious individuals, who are fighting for the compensation they deserve, after being harmed by: accidents, medical errors, or sexual and other types of assault. 

Top Settlements

In one of his largest cases, Atkins v. Florida Keys Dive Center, Hickey delivered a $12 million recovery when a dive boat struck two of its own divers—a father and his 12-year old son—causing both of them head and brain injuries. (

Calvin Atkins was 11 years old when he and his father went on a scuba-diving trip run by the center in August 2011. 

“Boat captain, John Brady, wasn't usually in charge of the Big Dipper, a 46-foot boat used to transport divers, according to the lawsuit. 

“When Brady was at the helm, he couldn't see anyone on or around the diving platform because of the way the boat was designed.
“He put the boat in reverse, and the propellers struck Calvin and his father, causing them both severe head injuries.” (

On land, Hickey recovered $4.5 million in a verdict involving an extraordinary healthy 89-year old woman, who suffered major brain injury when she was struck by a commercial vehicle in September, 2016. (

Jane Doe V. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Perhaps, Hickey’s most noted case involves the drugging and rape of a 12-year old girl aboard the Mariner of the Seas, a cruise ship owned by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

“Royal Caribbean Cruise Line…. “caters to pre-teens and teens,” Hickey told the jury—and the many TV show celebrities who interviewed him about the incident.

The cruise line website says that Royal Caribbean provides “ocean youth facilities including teen only areas.

“Our 12-14 and 15-17 teen groups give them the freedom to come and go as they please for sports, themed parties, movie nights, and more.” 

Royal Caribbean also says “parents don’t have to worry about [their kids] hanging out…. because every member of our team staff holds a college degree… and has experience working with youths.

“However, on this particular cruise… Royal Caribbean allowed an adult man to attend a teen-only event. 

The alleged perpetrator “then seduced our client, a minor child of 12 years-of-age at the time of this incident, drugged her, and raped her,” Hickey told the jury. 

“The bottom line is: get medical care immediately, take photos of the area where you were injured, get the names and contact information of witnesses, and report the accident or incident at once, “HIckey says.

Hickey as ABA Leader and Mentor

Hickey receives the sort of accolades other lawyers dream of. He’s not only a winner, he’s a leader and a mentor.

He believes in performing American Bar Association service, and says he would like to mentor young lawyers who are out of work and in debt.

He is a past president of the Dade County Bar Association and currently serves on the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar. 

As a worldwide authority on maritime law, Hickey has testified before Congress about safety and security onboard cruise ships and claims against cruise lines.

In October 2015, Hickey Law Firm listed #6 nationally and #1 in Florida in the National Law Journal’s Top Money Winners.

Hickey also is a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum as a result of the numerous verdicts and settlements achieved in excess of $1 million. 

His gross recoveries in 2015 alone were in excess of $30 million.

He has the edge over other personal injury attorneys in that he is double-board certified as a civil trial lawyer by The Florida Bar and also by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. 

Hickey has been named by his peers as a “SUPERLAWYER” in the publication (the top 5% of all lawyers); as a “Top Lawyer in South Florida” in the areas of personal injury and maritime in the South Florida Legal Guide (2004 to present); and as a “Legal Elite” member in Florida Trend Magazine (2006) (top 1.7% of all lawyers). 

He is listed in “Who’s Who in America,” “Who’s Who in American Law,” and “Who’s Who in Emerging Leaders in America.”

Hickey is rated A/V by Martindale Hubbell, the international directory of lawyers, a rating achieved by only 5% of all attorneys.  
In addition, Hickey has been chosen by his peers--and other lawyers across the state of Florida—as the Dade Country Bar Association’s Legal Luminary in Maritime Law in Miami-Dade County.

Hickey has been interviewed on national network news over 50 times. He has appeared on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBS, Fox News, and Court TV, including the shows hosted by Katie Couric, Anderson Cooper, Joe Scarborough and Wolf Blitzer.

For more information about Attorney Jack Hickey, visit his website at

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