If a crew member is hurt on the job while at sea, do they have to file a workers compensation claim? This is a question asked to our team of experienced Miami maritime lawyers quite often by injured cruise ship workers and their loved ones. The answer is that crew members do not use the traditional workers compensation system that land-based workers may access. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly known as the Jones Act, is a federal legislation that aims to protect seamen’s rights in cases of on-board accidents or death. Pursuant to this act, compensation can be claimed by a workman employed in a marine vessel when an injury is brought upon by the careless act of an employer or co-worker in course of his employment. Vessel owners can likewise be liable if the accident occurred due to dangerous conditions on the ship.
However, for sailors to acquire damages under the Jones Act, they must give adequate verification that they are, indeed, seamen. Federal courts have deciphered the term “sailor” to mean a person who is employed in a vessel or fleet that operates in waterways used for national or international commerce, or in other words, operates in navigable waters. As long as the person is engaged in some kind of work that is related with the vessel’s objective, the relative significance of the sailor’s expected set of job responsibilities is not critical.
The most common injuries incurred by crew members while on duty aboard a cruise liner are:
- Lifting, pushing, or pulling extremely heavy objects repeatedly
- Hazardous working conditions onboard
- Un-seaworthiness of the vessel
- Oppressive labor policies
- Fraudulent work contracts
- Absence of suitable hardware onboard
- Insufficient crew members to perform the specific tasks on the ship
No matter how or when the injury took place, crew members can claim compensation through the Jones Act for the following:
- Medical Bills: Your employer/vessel proprietor is supposed to pay for all hospital expenses related to the injury, including checkups, surgeries, hospital stay, physical therapy, medicines, x-ray and MRI, as well as to and fro transportation to get to your appointments.
- Maintenance: Your employer/vessel proprietor must also pay for your “maintenance” during your injury, which is a reasonable sum calculated on the need to cover your every day costs in acquiring food and lodging.
- Unearned Wages: Your employer/vessel proprietor must additionally pay for the wages that you would have earned under this term of business if you did not suffer from the injury.
- Right to Sue: If you were injured due to a co-worker’s negligence or if the vessel was not in a seaworthy condition at the time of your accident, you can file for additional causes like pain and suffering, emotional trauma, or loss of consortium. Cases like these have the privilege to a trial by a judge or jury.
Speak to an Experienced Maritime Lawyer Today
For over four decades Gerson & Schwartz, PA have represented clients seriously injured in port and while at sea. If you or a loved one has been in maritime accident injured while a crew member on a cargo ship, yacht, cruise ship, or sustained an off-shore injury, our Florida Maritime attorneys are here to help. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 1-877-475-2905.