Wherever you work, you’re susceptible to injuries and accidents. Depending on the nature of the injury or accident – especially if it was caused by your employer’s negligence – you might be able to receive compensation for your injuries.
This applies to most jobs… if they’re on land. What happens, however, if you work on the water instead?
As a crew member on a cruise ship, your injuries and accidents are handled differently than they are on land. The sea operates under maritime law, and cruise ships and crew members have their own rules and regulations to abide by.
Let’s explore what your rights are as a crew member who has been injured and what options are available to you to receive compensation.
Want Compensation for Being Injured at Sea? Learn the Jones Act
If you are an American worker injured at sea, you should be familiar with the Jones Act and what it does for you.
The Jones Act – also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 – was established to protect seamen and allow them to recover compensation from their employer for any illness, accident, or injury received while performing their job.
In order for the Jones Act to apply to you, however, you need to ensure that you are, in fact, a seaman. While the Act doesn’t provide an exact definition for who qualifies as a seaman, federal courts seem to believe a seaman is someone who is assigned to a ship that operates in navigable water and performs a job that is related to the ship’s purpose.
Additionally, a seaman has to spend a lot of time on the vessel. One court said an employee has to spend at least 30 percent of his or her time on the vessel to qualify under the Jones Act.
A crew member on a cruise ship would seem to qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act, but if you are unsure of your status, a qualified maritime attorney should be able to determine your eligibility.
What Does the Jones Act Do?
The Jones Act allows crew members to bring a negligence lawsuit against their employers. On land, your injury is generally handled by worker’s compensation. Under worker’s compensation, you will usually receive some compensation for your injuries, but the reason why you were injured isn’t always investigated.
Under the Jones Act, employers have to maintain a safe work environment for their employees. If they don’t do that, and you are injured as a result of their negligence, you have the ability to hold your employer fully accountable and collect economic and non-economic damages.
What If Your Injury Wasn’t Caused by Negligence?
Crew members also have a right to receive maintenance and cure. Similar to worker’s compensation, if your illness, accident, or injury is work-related, you are entitled to compensation. However, it will be a lot more limited than if you were able to prove negligence.
Maintenance and cure provides a daily living expense while you are recovering. You will also receive compensation for your medical expenses until you reach maximum medical improvement. One really important thing to remember: as an injured crew member, you can receive maintenance and cure as well as any damages awarded in a negligence suit.
Having an injury or accident at work can be stressful, but when your job takes place on the water, it only adds complications. That’s why, if you’ve been injured while working on a cruise ship, it’s imperative that you reach out to an experienced cruise ship accident attorney to determine not only if you have a case but also if you’re entitled to compensation.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented cruise victims who have suffered all kinds of injuries and illnesses due to negligence. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.