When a cruise ship employee is injured on the job, federal law provides a form of legal recourse that enables the employee to seek compensation for his or her injuries. The legal route most injured cruise ship employees take is filing a Jones Act claim for compensation if the employer’s negligence caused the cruise ship worker’s injuries.
In 2012, there were approximately 104,000 cruise ships on the waters which made roughly 1.1 million total cruises, according to North American cruise statistics from the United States Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration. In order to protect the rights of injured employees manning vessels (including cruise ships), federal legislature created the Jones Act.
The Jones Act is a federal statute that addresses the rights of seamen if they are injured or killed on the job. A seaman is a worker who is employed on a vessel in navigation. Many employees fall under this definition, including cruise ship workers.
Cruise liner companies have a legal duty of care to their workers; in other words, they are legally obligated to provide a safe environment for their employees. If they fail to do so, and an employee is injured as a result, the worker can file a Jones Act claim against the cruise ship company and obtain financial recompense.
There is a major difference between claims for injured land-based and sea-based employees. Land-based workers may file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits, but they are not permitted to file a fault-based claim against their employers.
Similarly, general maritime law allows maritime workers like cruise ship employees injured on the job to recover maintenance and cure benefits. Like workers’ comp, these are available regardless of who was at fault for the injury. These benefits cover medical expenses as well as general daily living expenses while recovering.
The Jones Act, though, allows seamen to file a fault-based claim against the employer. It will be the worker’s responsibility, however, to prove that the employer was negligent in order to receive benefits.
Because negligence is a primary element in Jones Act claims for injured cruise ship workers, it follows that both parties will be assessed their degree of fault for the accident.
This is the foundation to any Jones Act claim. If the cruise ship company can successfully prove that the worker was partly responsible for the accident, then the employee’s settlement will be reduced by his or her degree of fault.
So, for example, if the employee was found to be 30 percent at fault for his or her injuries, then compensation for damages awarded to the employee will be reduced by 30 percent. If damages total $100,000, the employee may recover $70,000 instead.
The Jones Act is in place to protect seamen and their families should a serious on-the-job accident occur.
The law enables seamen (or their survivors) to seek compensation for losses such as:
The cruise ship company and insurance company will do their best to lessen their responsibility because it will reduce their payout. It’s advisable for cruise ship workers injured on the job to obtain legal counsel before moving forward with a claim in order to protect their rights and best interests.
Cruise ship employees who were injured on the job can reach out to The Young Firmat toll-free at 866-703-2520 to set up a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the specifics of their legal options.