cruise ship crewmates waiting on deck

As a cruise ship employee, one of your primary responsibilities is to ensure passengers enjoy the vessel’s amenities and activities. However, it is your fundamental responsibility to ensure passenger safety, as well. It’s also crucial to protect and safeguard yourself onboard a cruise ship. Like any other owner of a business facility, a cruise ship has a duty to passengers and workers alike to provide a safe, hazard-free living and working environment.

If you sustained injuries while working aboard a cruise ship due to an incident that was the fault of the cruise ship company, know that seeking compensation for your injuries can be a complicated process. Unfortunately, cruise ships too commonly commit safety violations that injure passengers and crew members. Consulting a cruise ship injury attorney gives you the best chance of getting money for your losses when cruise ships commit safety violations.

A cruise ship injury attorney at Louis A. Vucci P.A. can answer your questions and explain your options. Determining the proper laws, rules, and regulations that apply to a cruise ship worker’s personal injury claim is rarely clear and straightforward. Experienced legal representation is necessary to ensure that you fight for the total compensation to which you are entitled and meet all procedural deadlines. Call Louis A. Vucci P.A. at [(786) 375-0344 today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Types of Cruise Ship Safety Violations

A cruise ship commits a safety violation when any of these circumstances are present:

  • The vessel is not seaworthy
  • The ship’s equipment and machinery are broken or poorly maintained
  • The ship’s personnel fail to identify and address hazards
  • The vessel lacks appropriate safety equipment and devices
  • The ship’s crew members lack adequate training

Types of Crew Member Injuries

Crew members suffer injuries that can range from minor to fatal. Crew member injuries include:

  • Amputation
  • Burns
  • Cuts, lacerations
  • Drowning
  • Electrocution
  • Fractures
  • Hearing loss
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Hypothermia
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis
  • Overexertion
  • Psychological and emotional injuries
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Strained and sprained muscles
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Vision loss

Some injuries leave crew members with permanent damage because of physical impairments or disabilities. Recently, an employee of a cruise ship lost a leg due to a cruise ship safety violation. Because the ship was flying under a Scottish flag, the law of the United Kingdom applied, and governing authorities levied a fine of 8,000 pounds.

Why You Need an Experienced Cruise Ship Attorney

ship captain watching with binoculars

You may have suffered injuries caused by a safety violation. Suing a cruise ship company demands an understanding of many federal and international laws. Trying to interpret how these laws apply to your claim correctly is a challenging task for the layperson. You need a skilled and experienced cruise ship injury attorney.

One difficult question arises when planning a strategy for bringing a claim for personal injuries against a cruise line. Does the law of the United States or some other country apply to the incident involving your injuries on a cruise ship?

Today, almost all cruise lines use passenger ships registered under flags of multiple foreign countries. Every cruise ship is subject to the respective laws of its country of registration. However, in some instances, the law of the United States will apply to an incident on a cruise ship. U.S. law may apply because the vessel picks up passengers at a U.S. port or because the cruise line’s principal place of business is in the United States.

Many laws that the average person has never heard of come into play. For example, the United States Coast Guard requires cruise ships entering U.S. ports to meet the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). This law and other international regulations govern various categories related to the vessel’s seaworthiness and other safety requirements. A cruise ship attorney can determine which laws apply to your case.

Injury Cases Under International Law

It is also possible that an international agreement like the Maritime Labour Convention (“MLC”) applies to your injury claim. The 50+ members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a cruise line trade association, adhere to the agreement under the Maritime Labour Convention. It gives cruise ship workers the right to a safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards. This agreement also gives you the right to decent onboard working and living conditions. The United States has not signed on to this agreement, so it will not apply if your ship is registered in the U.S.

The MLC gives you the right to pursue the “redress” of grievances and to use representation in your pursuit of justice. Take advantage of the assistance of an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in helping personal injury victims seek compensation from a cruise line. This advantage is especially crucial when you need money to cover your injuries and losses.

Injury Claims Under U.S. Law

If you work for a cruise line whose principal place of business is in the U.S., under federal law, the Jones Act may apply to your personal injury claim. Under the Jones Act, a cruise line owes a duty to crew members who meet the definition of a “seaman” under federal law. The cruise line must provide a seaworthy vessel. To meet this duty, a cruise ship must provide a ship reasonably fit for its intended use and a safe place to live and work.

If you suffer harm when a cruise ship fails to use reasonable care to maintain safe conditions, you may have a claim based on the cruise ship’s negligence under the Jones Act.

Compensation Available for Cruise Ship Safety Violations

Suppose an incident causing your injury falls under the Jones Act or a foreign country’s laws. You are not entitled to apply for workers’ compensation benefits as you usually would working at a job on the Florida mainland. Instead, you must file a claim under the Jones Act to pursue compensation for accident-related expenses such as medical bills and lost wages.

Through what it defines as maintenance and cure, the Jones Act entitles you to seek monetary compensation for living expenses and medical care you incur during your recovery. Maintenance is the equivalent of living expenses for housing, food, transportation, and other necessary miscellaneous living expenses. Cure refers to medical care. You are entitled to seek compensation for the treatment necessary to restore your physical and mental health to a condition that allows you to resume your job.

As an injured cruise ship employee, you can pursue compensation for damages under the Jones Act by proving that a cruise ship or its employees caused your injuries due to carelessness or negligence.

Proving causation under the Jones Act does not require showing that the cruise ship or a fellow employee was a substantial factor or the primary cause of your injuries. The cruise ship’s negligence must have contributed to your injuries only to some extent, no matter how small. This distinction in the degree of proof is an essential difference between personal injury claims in Jones Act cases and personal injury claims in Florida civil cases.

You can file a lawsuit for compensation in cases under the Jones Act, similar to the suit you can file in any personal injury case. The damages awarded in lawsuits are much broader than the benefits available in workers’ compensation claims. You can recover economic losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and lost earning capacity, as well as non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Seeking Compensation from a Cruise Line Presents Difficult Challenges

It’s difficult for many cruise-ship employees to raise concerns about safety violations. They worry about retaliation from the cruise ship. No one wants to lose a job and source of income. However, retaliation in the form of terminating your employment is illegal. The law protects you and allows you to seek compensation when a cruise ship retaliates against you for some lawful act.

If a disagreement arises because you believe the cruise ship wrongfully terminated you, an arbitrator paid by the cruise ship line may resolve this dispute. By signing their employment contracts, many cruise-ship workers agree to settle disputes with the cruise ship through arbitration rather than court. Because cruise lines choose and pay the arbitrators, arbitration may cause less-than-optimal results.

An attorney can help you determine whether you can litigate your claim or must resolve it through arbitration. The possibility of your employment contract subjecting your claim to arbitration is another example of the complexity of suing a cruise ship. But a seasoned cruise ship injury attorney can provide the guidance necessary for success whether you have to settle your claim before a judge or arbitrator.

Were You Hurt Because a Cruise Ship Line Committed a Safety Violation?

If you suffered injuries while working on a cruise ship, you likely have the right to seek compensation. If a cruise ship’s safety violation causes you harm, Louis A. Vucci P.A. can evaluate your case in a free consultation. Our legal team will analyze your injury claim to put you in the best position for success in your case. Call Louis A. Vucci P.A. today at (786) 375-0344 or contact us online to schedule a free, confidential consultation.