Maritime Law Overview
Seaman's Information Regarding Maritime Injury
While on the water, people find themselves in situations that could end in accident or injury.
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Cruise ship employees have hard jobs. Unlike passengers who are onboard to relax and have fun, cruise ship employees often work long hours and live in difficult conditions. Like other types of employers, the employers of cruise ship workers have certain legal responsibilities to keep their employees safe. The employment relationship makes the responsibilities to cruise ship employees different than the cruise ship owners and operators' responsibility to cruise ship passengers.
What Happens When a Cruise Ship Employee is Injured on the Job?
Most cruise ship employees are considered to be seamen for purposes of federal maritime law. The Jones Act is a federal maritime law that provides injured seamen with compensation for their injuries. Specifically, cruise ship employees who are hurt on the job may be entitled to damages for medical care and for living expenses while they recover from their injuries.
Cruise ship employees, like other seamen, are entitled to receive compensation for medical care that they receive as a result of the injury. The amount of compensation for medical care includes medical treatment, hospitalization and rehabilitation services until the employee has reached the point of maximum medical improvement. Under the Jones act, maximum medical improvement is known as cure.
Cruise ship employees are also entitled to compensation for the living expenses which they would have received if they were living aboard the vessel had they not been injured. This is known as the maintenance expense and covers both food and shelter until the employee is able to return to work. An employee may also be able to recover lost wages that were incurred as a result of the accident.
One of the claims that may be raised under the Jones Act is that the cruise ship was unseaworthy. In other words, the cruise ship may have had a defect at the time it left port that a reasonable owner would have repaired before allowing the ship to go to sea. Some examples of defects that might make a ship unseaworthy include inadequate staffing, broken equipment or a ship that needs repairs.
Cruise ship employees may also be able to bring negligence claims against employers who failed to act as other reasonable cruise ship employers would act under similar circumstances. If a cruise ship employee prevails in a negligence claim then he or she may be entitled to lost wages, medical expenses and compensation for pain and suffering.
Working on board a cruise ship has many benefits but it is not without risks. Employees should understand both the potential risks and the remedies for injuries in order to protect their rights.