Crew Members Injuries
There are 3 important legal aspects to each and every crew member injury claim:
- The Jones Act
Crew members who are injured while on the ship have the right to sue their employer or co-workers for their injuries and damages. The main principle and foundation for the rights afforded to crew members and seamen is the fact that an employer has the responsibility and absolute duty to provide a safe working environment to its employees. It also means that safe and adequate equipment must be provided to workers in order to accomplish their daily tasks as safely as possible.
Unlike cruise ship passengers who only have 1 year to file a law suit against the cruise line, seamen have 3 years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit against their employer under the Jones Act. The spectrum of recovery encompasses pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost earnings.
- Maintenance and Cure
In Maritime law, the obligation of Maintenance requires the owner of the vessel to provide employees with per diem living expenses throughout the crew member’s medical recovery. Once the worker has reached maximum medical improvement status, or once he was declared able to return to work and assume his former duties, the obligation of Maintenance dissipates.
The obligation of Cure puths the onus on the shipowner to provide the injured seaman with medical care, including medications and medical devices.
- Unseaworthiness Doctrine
Under General maritime law, a shipowner has the recognized duty to provide and furnish a seaworthy ship, which reasonably fits the use of the vessel. Included in this doctrine is the nondeleguable duty to provide adequate safety equipment for the vessel. For example, if a piece of equipment fails, it is sufficient for a crew member to establish the unseaworthiness of ship. If a crew member assaults a fellow worker, the ship may be deemed unseaworthy because of a “defective” crew member.
If a dangerous condition aboard the vessel causes or contributes to injuring a worker, a claim against the shipowner for unseaworthiness can be pursued. Under this doctrine, the shipowner cannot claim it was unaware or lacked notice of the dangerous condition as a defense.
Leesfield Scolaro has handled multiple crew member injury cases over the years, including the claim of a seaman who was burnt throughout his body and sustained massive injuries requiring lengthy and painful hospitalization. In a recent case, a crew member became injured when a large affixed piece of the ceiling became loose and fell on their head, causing permanent spinal injuries. To speak with one of our maritime law attorneys about your potential claim, contact us at 1-800-836-6400.