Do Cruise Lines Skirt the Law Regarding Crewmember Safety?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of John H. (Jack) Hickey with Hickey Law Firm.
Cruise line and sea vessel owners have certain responsibilities when it comes to the treatment of their crewmembers. These and other responsibilities are included in maritime or “admiralty” law, a unique set of laws that applies to events that occur on vessels traveling through navigable waters.
The Jones Act, sometimes referred to as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is designed to protect the well-being of crewmembers who become sick or injured due to poor maintenace or safety violations aboard a vessel. The Seaman’s Protection Act is another important aspect of maritime law which protects crewmembers from retaliation if they choose to report a safety violation to the U.S. Coast Guard or other federal agency. If you were injured while working on a cruise line, reach out to a maritime law attorney to learn about your options for physical and financial recovery.
Like any industry, cruise lines may choose to skirt the law regarding crewmember treatment and safety, with significant consequences.
In any industry where an employer fails to provide adequate safety measures or knowingly violates industry safety regulations, the employer may be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit. However, while an injured crewmember’s case has many similarities to personal injury cases occurring on the mainland, the differences are significant and must be accounted for. Unfortunately, cruise lines have been known to cut corners in regard to crewmember safety in the interest of efficiency and increasing profit.
If your injury or ill-treatment occurred at sea, it’s important to talk to a maritime law attorney.
They can help you wade through the applicable laws, statutes, and deadlines which will apply to your case. For example, the Seaman’s Protection Act does not necessarily apply to every crewmember, but specifically applies to U.S. flag vessels and vessels owned by a U.S. citizen, or otherwise by an entity whose controlling interest is owned by a U.S. citizen. This information can be difficult for a crewmember to obtain on their own. Additionally, if a crewmember reports a safety violation and experiences an adverse action such as a termination or demotion as a result, their complaint must be filed within 180 days.
Common damages in crewmember injury claims include the following:
- Back pay: This is especially true for crewmembers who are fired or demoted for reporting a safety violation.
- Reinstatement: This applies to crewmembers who are fired for an injury or for reporting a violation.
- Special damages: These damages can vary from case to case, and may include compensation for medical bills, impairment of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and more.
- Punitive damages: These damages are not the most common, and are generally applied when a cruise line has behaved with gross negligence in regard to the safety of a crewmember. Punitive damages are intended both as a punishment for and to discourage the cruise line from behaving similarly in the future.
- Attorneys fees: In a successful maritime law claim, the cost of an attorney including their fees and cost of expert resources can be recouped in a fair settlement offer or verdict.
To learn more about maritime law or if you have been injured while working on a cruise line due to employer negligence, reach out to a maritime law attorney as soon as possible.