Miami Maritime Lawyer and Injured Crew Member Rights

If you are a cruise ship worker badly hurt on the job, you may wonder what your next steps should be. Should you file a worker's compensation claim? Can you still recover compensation if you have signed an employment agreement? Call the crew member injury lawyers of Wolfson & Leon with your questions at (305) 285-1115.

Cruise Ship Worker Injuries

Cruise ship workers face unique workplace hazards. Crew members may be exhausted if they work excessive hours because the cruise ship is short-staffed. Mechanical failures, broken equipment, and missing safety aids can be dangerous to crew members working on the ship. Improperly prepared meals or food-borne viruses can make cruise ship workers sick. A crew member could be hurt if they are carrying around heavy luggage, fall down a flight of stairs, or slip and fall on an outdoor deck.

You should seek immediate medical attention if you are badly hurt while working on a cruise ship. In addition, here are some critical steps you should take to protect your rights.

  • Report the accident immediately to your direct supervisor. Ask for a copy of any forms they complete to document your accident.
  • When seeking medical care onboard the ship or at the port, be sure to follow closely the instructions provided by the doctor or nurse. Request a copy of any medical forms they fill out to keep for your files.
  • When possible, try to take pictures or videos of your injuries and where you were hurt.
  • Get the contact information of any employees or passengers who witnessed the accident.
  • Check your employment agreement to make sure there are no other key steps you should take when you are hurt on the job.

Cruise ships are unique in that employees live in the same place where they work. If the ship doesn't have enough staff, you could be asked to return to work before fully recovering. If your employer asks that you return to work before your recovery is complete, you shouldn't go back unless the ship's medical team has cleared you. If you don't carefully follow the medical instructions you've been given, it may impact your ability to recover compensation in the future.

Can an Injured Cruise Ship Worker File a Workers Compensation Claim?

Worker’s compensation does not cover cruise ship workers. Instead, an injured cruise ship worker should seek compensation as allowed by the provisions found in maritime law.

What Compensation Can I Receive Under Maritime Law?

If you are gravely hurt while working on a cruise ship, you may be able to seek compensation under the Jones Act. Established in 1920, the Act provides maintenance and cure relief for injured seaman. Maintenance covers financial compensation from the day you are hurt until you can return to work. Cure refers to medical care and compensation for your injuries.

Under the Jones Act, an injured cruise ship worker must prove that they meet the definition of a "seaman." To be considered a "seaman," the cruise ship worker must:

  • Provide a service that contributes to the overall function of the cruise ship,
  • Show that they are a member of the crew by the nature and time commitment of their work,
  • And spend a minimum of 30% of their time working on the vessel while in navigation.

Injured cruise ship workers who meet this definition must also prove that their employer, or other employees, were negligent in their responsibilities, which ultimately caused their injuries.

Under the Jones Act, an injured cruise ship worker may receive compensation for lost wages, reimbursement for past and future medical costs, and non-economic damages, including mental anguish and pain and suffering.

An injured cruise ship worker may also recover damages under the Doctrine of Unseaworthiness. If the owner does not maintain and operate the cruise ship in a way that does not cause injury to crew members, the vessel may be found to be unseaworthy. An unseaworthy vessel doesn’t necessarily mean that this isn’t in operation. Untrained staff, poor safety protocols, or if there aren’t enough staff aboard to perform their jobs safely, a ship could be considered unseaworthy.

While injured cruise ship workers must demonstrate that their employer was negligent under the Jones Act, the Doctrine of Unseaworthiness has no such requirement.

Miami Maritime Law Firm for Injured Cruise Ship Worker

Maritime laws are complex and can be challenging to navigate. If you or a family member was severely injured working aboard a cruise ship, you should seek the help of the best Miami maritime lawyer you can find. At Wolfson & Leon, we work with passengers and crew members who were badly injured on a cruise ship. If you are an injured cruise ship worker and want to know what legal rights to compensation you may have, call Wolfson & Leon today, and we will evaluate your claim for free. You can ask us questions and learn more about your rights when you've been hurt by calling (305) 285-1115 today.

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