Seaman (Cruise Ship Workers)
Ships can be very dangerous places to work, and maritime employees can face significant risk of on-the-job injuries. When a crew member is injured or dies because a maritime vessel is mishandled, or basic safety measures are not practiced or enforced, there are special laws governing compensation and care for injured maritime workers.
The two major laws that protect seamen and maritime workers are the Jones Act (covering seamen who work aboard vessels) and the Long Shoremen and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (which covers other maritime workers). The process for identifying the liable party or parties under the Jones Act is complex, involving the type of vessel, the injured party’s role aboard that vessel, and the circumstances of the accident. That’s why it’s essential to seek experienced legal representation to help you get full compensation if you or a member of your family was hurt while working for a maritime employer.Employment on a vessel
If you or a member of your family was injured during the course of employment on a vessel through the negligence of your employers or co-workers, the Jones Act allows you to seek compensation. The Jones Act protects a class of employees known as “seamen” which includes crewmembers, officers, captains, masters, and certain other people who work aboard vessels. The Act does not discriminate by rank; crewmen have the same rights as higher-ranking officers. It also includes day workers who work aboard vessels during the day and return home at night. These vessels include cruise ships, casino ships and boats, tug boats, barges, fishing boats, trawlers, ferries, water taxis, oil rigs, and other vessels on the ocean, lakes, rivers, and canals.
Your employer may be liable for even a small error that contributes to your injuries, and that is true even if you were aware of the high risks involved in your work. If your injuries are the result of either negligence or unseaworthiness, you may have a potential claim.
Examples of negligence include:
- Working in weather that is too severe for safe vessel operation
- Improper maintenance of equipment or the ship
- Improper or inadequate protective clothing, gear or equipment
- Failure to follow or enforce safety measures
- Failure to train crew or staff the vessel adequately
Examples of unseaworthiness include:
- Dangerous or extreme work requirements, such as excessive lifting
- Improperly maintained decks, passages, or gangways, including slippery surfaces and loose or damaged railings
- Malfunctioning emergency gear or insufficient lifeboats
- Loose or improperly stowed cables, lines, or wires
- Leaking or defective hulls or bulkheads
If you were injured while working on a vessel, you may be entitled to lost wages, including future wages, medical expenses, occupational or vocational retraining, and compensation for pain and suffering. If your injury limits the jobs available to you in the future, you may be entitled to damages for lost earning capacity.Your rights under the law
An injured seaman has the legal right to “maintenance and cure,” which offers benefits similar to workers’ compensation laws. “Maintenance” is a daily allowance to cover food and shelter, and “cure” requires the employer to provide appropriate medical care, hospitalization, and rehabilitation. If you are an injured seaman, you have the right to maintenance and cure, apart from any valid claim from the Jones Act. With a valid Jones Act claim, you may be able to recover an award for damages in addition to maintenance and cure. Finally, if a third party such as the employee of an independent contractor is at fault, you may be able to pursue damages from that party.
At Friedman, Rodman, & Frank, our qualified personal injury attorneys will review your case free of charge, and help you identify all possible sources of recovery for your injuries. If you’ve been injured aboard a vessel, it’s important that you seek experienced legal counsel before talking to insurance company representatives or settling a claim with your employer. For a free consultation with an experienced Miami maritime lawyer, with offices in Miami-Dade, Homestead, and Naples, call us at 305-448-8585 or 877-448-8585, or complete our online contact form. We offer consultations in English, Spanish, and Creole.