Cruise Ship – Accidents and Injuries – Crewmember Injuries
Crew members on cruise ships face some of the most dangerous working conditions imaginable. While it’s their job to make sure passengers on vacation are enjoying themselves, they too need to be looked out for. Many cruise lines forget to take care of their crew, leading to injury.
Crew members, just like shore workers, have rights and protections under the law. In fact, maritime law accords crew members certain protections for injuries suffered while on the job. However, these legal rights are open only to the vigilant. Qualified seamen who are injured on the job but sleep on their rights past a certain period of time lose their right to claim from their employer.
Common Injuries Suffered by Crew on Cruise Ships and their Causes
Cruise ship crew may be injured as a result of:
- Slip and falls or trip and falls
- Lifting or pulling heavy cargo or equipment
- Repetitive lifting and pulling of heavy equipment
- Dangerous working conditions
- Insufficient equipment on the ship
- Harsh labor policies
- Insufficient staffing of cruise ships
These lead to injuries such as:
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Head injuries
- Arm and leg injuries
- Knee injuries
- Eye and ear injuries
- Injuries to internal body organs
- Chemical burns and related injuries
Legal Protection for Injured Crew
Crew members who qualify as seamen and are injured in the course of work on a cruise ship are entitled to compensation from the cruise ship under maritime law, including the Jones Act. As a qualified seaman, if you are injured while working on a qualified vessel, you may be entitled to:
If you are injured on the job, you may be entitled to receive maintenance benefits from the cruise line. Maintenance covers your per diem living allowance. It includes room and board expenses such as rent. It also covers mortgage payments, property tax, and even home owner’s insurance.
Maintenance also includes utilities such as food, water, and electricity. The benefit should be paid up until you recover and return to work or up to the point of maximum medical recovery. It is payable regardless of fault for the injury.
2. Cure Benefits
Just like maintenance, these benefits are payable regardless of fault and up to the point of full recovery or maximum medical recovery. Cure benefits cover medical expenses such as medication, hospitalization, scans and tests, and surgery.
When a Crew Member Can Sue the Employer
If a ship owner refuses or neglects to provide maintenance and cure benefits to you, you may be able to legally claim compensation and punitive damages from the ship owner without having to prove fault. If your injuries resulted from negligence that can in some way be attributed to the ship’s crew, captain, operator or owner, you may be able to recover additional damages by filing a lawsuit directly against the ship’s owner or operator.
In addition, ship owners are required to maintain their ships in seaworthy condition, meaning the ship should be reasonably fit for its purpose. If a cruise ship is unseaworthy either because of insufficient staffing, faulty equipment, slippery surfaces or inadequate safety measures, and this leads to a crew member’s injury, the injured crew member can legally claim compensation for injuries against the ship owner, even if the owner did not know of the defect.
If you have been injured while working on a cruise ship, you have the right to compensation for your injuries. Do not delay in contacting an experienced maritime law or Jones Act attorney. Your rights could be at risk.