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: