For cruise ship employees, every day on the water presents another potential risk for job-related injuries. Even among the most highly-rated cruise lines, safety violations and dangerous conditions onboard are commonplace, and passengers and crewmembers often face far greater risks than any of us would like to believe.
If you were injured while working onboard a cruise ship, you are not alone. Numerous cruise workers are injured at sea every year, in incidents ranging from slip-and-fall accidents to physical and sexual assaults. Fortunately, in the United States, there are federal and maritime laws that are specifically designed to protect individuals who work offshore, and these laws provide the opportunity to recover financial compensation for workers’ medical bills, living expenses, and other losses.
Your Rights as an Injured Cruise Worker: The Jones Act
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (commonly known as the “Jones Act”) remains one of the most important legal tools available to injured offshore workers. If you work onboard a cruise ship in the ocean, the Gulf of Mexico or any other navigable water, you most likely qualify for protection under the Jones Act.
The Jones Act provides injured cruise workers with two ways to seek financial compensation:
- A claim for “maintenance and cure” – Maintenance and cure are limited benefits that offshore workers must pay regardless of fault. These benefits cover injured workers’ medical expenses and a portion of their daily living expenses while they are unable to work.
- A claim for Jones Act negligence – While land-based employees are generally prohibited from suing their employers for on-the-job injuries, the Jones Act allows cruise workers to seek full compensation when their cruise lines are negligent in causing or contributing to their injuries. Under the Jones Act, cruise lines can be held liable even for “slight negligence” – a much lower standard than that which applies to other types of personal injury claims.
Your Rights as an Injured Cruise Worker: The Law of Unseaworthiness
In addition to Jones Act claims, injured cruise workers will often be able to assert claims for unseaworthiness. The maritime principle of “seaworthiness” requires vessel owners to ensure that their ships are free from dangerous conditions that cause harm to workers onboard. For several examples of unseaworthy conditions, you can read:
If you were injured as a result of an unseaworthy condition, you are entitled to seek full compensation from the cruise ship owner for your medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other losses. Unlike full-compensation claims under the Jones Act, in order to recover for injuries from an unseaworthy condition, you do not need to be able to show that the vessel owner was negligent. If you can prove that you were injured by an unseaworthy condition, this is enough to support a claim for compensation.
Speak with a Cruise Ship Injury Lawyer in Houston, TX
If you were injured offshore and would like to speak with a Jones Act attorney, contact the law offices of Morrow & Sheppard LLP. Your initial consultation is free, and you pay nothing unless we win your case. To speak with one of our experienced cruise ship injury lawyers in confidence, please call (800) 489-2216 or get in touch with us online today.