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Injured while working on a cruise ship? What you should know

Cruise ship workers often face long, difficult hours on the job, winding their way through the vessel’s many layers and doing their best to avoid accidents. Even when people are careful however, injuries do happen.

Back and muscle issues, burns, slips and falls, broken bones, illnesses – there are a number of potential perils for cruise ship workers. If one of these accidents leaves you unable to work with weeks or months remaining on the trip, it can seem devastating. There are laws, however, about what the cruise ship must provide in the event of a worker injury.

Maintenance, cure and unearned wages

Maritime law says employers – in this case, a cruise ship – are liable for “maintenance, cure, and unearned wages” of an injured or sick worker (referred to as a seafarer). What does that all mean?

Maintenance generally means providing equivalent compensation for food and lodging while that worker recovers offshore. Cure covers most medical expenses, which the employer is responsible for until the worker recovers. And lastly, the cruise ship worker is entitled to pay they would have received during the voyage or contract if they had not gotten sick or injured.

Negligence and lawsuits

The employer has a responsibility to provide a cruise ship that is seaworthy, meaning fit for its purpose. If a vessel is missing a vital component or has faulty equipment, for example, and it causes injury, that might be considered negligence.

The Jones Act allows harmed seafarers to pursue a negligence claim against a cruise ship owner. The plaintiff has to show the employer’s negligence played some role, even if small, in what happened.

If you are injured while working on a cruise ship, it is Important to document everything possible. Take photos, write notes, gather contact information for witnesses, get evaluated by a doctor and keep records of everything. You also may want to consider reaching out to a maritime law attorney as soon as possible.

You never know what might happen on a cruise ship. While that can mean unmatched fun and thrills, for workers, it can ultimately mean something far more serious.

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