Crew Member Claims for Cruise Ship Injuries
As a cruise ship worker, you encounter unique hazards. Although the ship might be in good condition, unknown dangers can lead to injury. A crew member can get hurt from slipping on a wet floor or overexerting themselves while performing repetitive tasks. A cook might mishandle food, causing contamination and illness.
At Louis A. Vucci P.A., we understand the physical, financial, and emotional burdens of getting hurt at work. You might be unable to return to your job if your injury is severe. That directly affects your pay and might lead to debt if you can’t afford your medical bills and other expenses. You can count on us to protect your rights and help pursue the compensation you deserve.
Call Louis A. Vucci P.A. at (786) 375-0344 for a free, confidential consultation to learn more about what we can do for you.
Crew Member Rights Under the Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal law allowing eligible maritime workers to hold their employer liable for on-the-job injuries and illnesses. As a crew member on a cruise ship, you are a maritime worker under the act. You must prove your employer’s negligence contributed to your injury to recover compensation.
The act affords maritime workers additional rights such as:
- Right to medical treatment and room and board while treating a work-related injury or illness
- Right to a reasonably safe working environment
- Right to file a lawsuit against an employer or another party if their negligence causes an accident
- Right to punitive damages if an employer withholds payment for medical care and living costs
- Right to additional compensation if the vessel or another crew member is unseaworthy
Typically, workers’ compensation insurance applies when an employee gets hurt on the job. However, maritime workers are in an entirely different category. They aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, they must file a claim under the Jones Act to seek compensation for medical bills and other accident-related expenses.
Who Qualifies as a Maritime Worker?
A maritime worker is an individual who works on a vessel operating on navigable waters. These workers are sometimes referred to as “seamen” in the law. A seaman is a person who spends at least 30% of their time completing work-related duties on a moving or temporarily moored or anchored vessel. The duties they perform must relate to the vessel’s functioning or mission.
Maritime workers on cruise ships include:
Common Causes of Cruise Ship Accidents
Many kinds of accidents can occur aboard a ship, and anyone can get hurt, including crew members. Despite crew members’ experience, safety precautions, and proper maintenance of the ship, dangerous conditions can still lead to injuries. Someone else’s negligence can endanger your health and safety.
Below are some of the most common causes of cruise ship accidents that lead to crew member injuries.
Cruise Ship Collisions
Cruise ships are massive. You can see them from afar, making the idea of crashing into another vessel seem unimaginable. However, collisions can occur, whether the cruise ship crashes into another vessel, a dock, or land.
The most common factors that contribute to collisions include:
- Poor decision making
- Malfunctioning radar system
- Overworked employees
- Navigational errors
- Inexperienced or distracted captain
- Weather conditions
The crew is responsible for maintaining onboard machinery and equipment. They must ensure everything functions correctly by conducting routine inspections and promptly repairing damage or defects. Cruise ships require multiple systems and parts to work together to keep them in operation. However, failing equipment can lead to injuries.
Common causes of equipment failure include:
- Inadequate protective gear or equipment
- Improper communication about safety procedures
- Failing to replace a worn-out or defective part
- Lack of repairs and maintenance
- Failing to monitor electronic systems to locate and address potential problems
Human error is one of the most common causes of cruise ship accidents. A deckhand, captain, or another employee can make a mistake that injures a crew member. Common examples of human error include:
- Violating maritime laws
- Improper cruise ship operation
- Negligently hiring unqualified or inexperienced crew
- Failing to communicate safety precautions and provide protective gear
- Leaving hazards in working areas
- Failing to conduct proper inspections
- Failing to repair damage or notify a superior of the problem
- Incorrectly handling and storing dangerous chemicals
All crew members must undergo training. They must learn how to perform their jobs correctly and how to respond during emergencies. An untrained employee might complete work-related tasks incorrectly or respond poorly to a dangerous situation, leaving other crew members at risk of injury. A crew is safest when all members are well-trained and observe all safety precautions.
Common Crew Member Injuries in Cruise Ship Accidents
Crew members can sustain various injuries while working on cruise ships. These injuries often range from minor to life-threatening, depending on the circumstances. Some injuries heal without medical attention, while others require ongoing medical care.
The most common crew member injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Lung disease and other respiratory illnesses
- Hearing or vision loss
- Broken bones
- Electrical shock
- Traumatic brain injury
- Burn injuries
- Overexertion injuries
- Heat exhaustion
- Pulled and sprained muscles
- Nerve damage
- Emotional or psychological trauma
Traumatic accidents onboard cruise ships can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety. Some injuries cause permanent damage, leaving a crew member with physical limitations or impairments.
Compensation in Crew Member Claims
You can file a claim under the Jones Act to recover compensation for your work-related injury or illness. The money you receive might cover your:
- Lost wages, if you are unable to work while injured
- Lost earning capacity, if injuries prevent you from working in the future
- Hospitalization, physical therapy, doctor’s appointments, medications, and other medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Permanent disability
Maintenance and cure are recoverable in a Jones Act claim. As a maritime worker, you have a right to monetary compensation for living expenses and medical care while recovering from your injury.
Maintenance provides crew members a means to live while treating an injury or illness after an on-the-job illness or injury. Your employer must pay for your daily living expenses, such as transportation, rent, food, and other necessary costs.
Cure refers to medical care. You are entitled to compensation for all necessary treatment to improve your physical and mental condition so you can get back to your work-related responsibilities.
Coverage for maintenance and cure ends once you reach maximum medical improvement. That means the point at which your condition isn’t likely to improve with additional medical treatment.
Statute of Limitations Under the Jones Act
Crew member claims under the Jones Act are subject to a statute of limitations. It is the allotted timeframe for bringing a civil action for personal injury or death due to a maritime accident. The statute of limitations allows a three-year timeframe to file a lawsuit. That means you have three years from the cruise ship accident date to initiate your lawsuit against the negligent party.
Pursuing a Claim for a Crew Member’s Death
Despite every precaution a crew member takes, accidents can lead to fatal injuries and illnesses. The Death on the High Seas Act allows the deceased’s personal representative to bring a civil action against the liable vessel or person. A claim under this act benefits a surviving spouse, child, parent, or another dependent relative.
The death must occur more than three nautical miles from the United States shore. It also must result from someone’s fault, wrongful act, or neglect. That means you must prove someone’s negligent actions led to the death. Common types of negligence accepted under the act include:
- Inadequate safety inspections
- Unsafe working conditions
- Poor maintenance
- Lack of safety protocols and equipment
- Negligent hiring of crew members and other staff
The court will award compensation based on the individual’s monetary loss. If the claim benefits more than one eligible surviving family member, the court will divide the compensation according to each person’s sustained loss. Compensable losses can include:
- Funeral expenses
- The monetary value of services the decedent would have provided if they survived
- Financial support and contributions, including wages the decedent could have earned to provide for the family
- Loss of inheritance
- Pain and suffering the decedent endured before death
- The value of lost guidance, training, and care the decedent can no longer provide to their children
Get Help with Your Crew Member Claim
A cruise ship accident can injure crew members, preventing them from returning to work and interfering with other aspects of their daily lives. It can lead to significant financial strain without adequate compensation from the liable party. As a maritime worker, you have the right to file a claim for a job-related injury or illness.
Louis A. Vucci P.A. is ready to take on the negligent party and pursue compensation for your injuries. We will provide dependable legal representation and guidance until the end. Call us at (786) 375-0344 for a free, confidential consultation if you sustained injuries on a cruise ship due to someone else’s negligence.