Seamen and maritime crew members working on different types of ships may be able to sue their employers for injuries they sustain at work. These lawsuits are typically available to workers on cruise ships, yachts, oil rigs, cargo ships, tugboats, and barges. Many of these jobs are quite dangerous, and it is up to your employer and the owner and operator of the ship to make sure that the staff and crew on board are safe, that cargo and other materials aboard the ship are loaded properly, and that safety equipment is in place to prevent injuries.
If your employer negligently allowed you to be injured, you may have a claim under the Jones Act and other parts of maritime law that allow you to seek compensation for your injuries. The attorneys for injured crew members on yachts, boats, and cruise ships at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. offer free legal consultations to help victims of injuries and accidents while working on ships. Call our Miami crewmember accident attorneys at (866) 386-1762 to set up a free legal consultation.
Suing for Injuries While Working on a Ship
If you are a crewmember or worker aboard a vessel, whether it be an oil tanker, yacht, cruise ship, or other ocean-going vessel, and you qualify as a “seaman,” and you may be governed by U.S. maritime law and the Jones Act. These laws create general duties and obligations for employers and ship owner and will often give the grounds for legal claims against them for injuries and accidents. These claims can often get victims compensation for damages such as the following:
- Medical care and treatment after an accident
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Retaliation by your employer for filing a claim
- Claims for damages stemming from unseaworthiness of the vessel
Working aboard ships can be very dangerous. Maritime law recognizes that a seaman must work under dangerous conditions. As such, it does not follow the doctrine of “assumption of the risk,” which means that you cannot be denied recovery simply because you knowingly undertook the risks of your job. However, your employer can assert that you are contributorily negligent, which means you did something unreasonably negligent that contributed to your own accident. Even if that is what happened, it would not block your claim like the assumption of the risk doctrine would. Instead, your damages would be reduced to account for your own level of fault.
Many of these jobs are somewhat risky, but your employer is not necessarily responsible for every single danger you face on the job. To get your employer to cover an injury at sea, you must prove that they did something wrong – usually something “negligent” – before the court can award you damages. This type of negligence in injuries for ship workers typically involves dangerous safety standards, insufficient or defective safety gear, negligent training, or dangerous conditions on the ship that should have been cleaned up or repaired.
If you can prove your employer was at fault for your injuries, you should be able to claim damages for any of the harms that resulted from the accident.
Causes of Injury for Ship Workers
There are many ways that workers are injured on ships. The risks you face in your job at sea will be different depending on what kind of ship you are on and what kind of job you perform.
Slip and Fall Injuries
Decks on yachts can get wet, but it is often up to your employer or other crewmembers to ensure that the decks are safe for passengers and crew. If you slipped and fell because of dangerous conditions aboard the yacht, you might be entitled to sue for any injuries you faced, such as back or head injuries.
Lifting and Carrying Injuries
Yacht crewmembers are often responsible for loading supplies and luggage on private yachts. If in the course of performing those duties, you are forced to lift more than you can carry or are not given the proper supervision and help you need, you could be seriously injured. Back injuries and other injuries from these kinds of lifting and carrying accidents can often keep you out of work for a prolonged recovery.
Assault and Sexual Assault
Many yacht crewmembers work for wealthy, powerful people. Your position as a worker on their yacht by no means gives these individuals the right to lay hands on you or touch you in a way that you do not consent to. If you were assaulted by an unruly yacht owner or passenger, or if you were inappropriately touched or sexually assaulted by one of these individuals, you might be entitled to file a lawsuit against the individual and your employer.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries from falling overboard from a yacht, you could be entitled to sue the responsible parties. Many overboard accidents result in broken bones and internal injuries during the fall. Others are fatal or result in the victim being lost at sea, which could allow the family of a yacht crewmember to sue for wrongful death.
Fires and Burns
Yachts could be susceptible to mechanical failures and engine problems that could result in fires aboard the vessel. Chefs and kitchen workers could face burns in the course of their normal duties, or problems aboard the ship could cause the kitchen or other areas of the ship to catch fire. If dangerous conditions or lack of proper maintenance on a ship caused these fires, crewmembers could be entitled to sue.
Gangplanks, winches, and other equipment on a yacht or sailboat must be kept in proper working order. If the owner of the boat fails to keep things in line, workers and crewmembers could be seriously injured in accidents, potentially entitling them to lawsuits.
The Types of Crewmembers that We Represent
Whether working on a yacht as crew, as a cook, as waitstaff, or as entertainment, you face certain risks of injury. Some of these injuries come with the territory of working on a boat or ship while others could happen in any job on land or at sea. If you were injured by any of the following accidents or by intentional injury, you might be entitled to sue the responsible parties, your employer, or the yacht owner.
Oil Ship and Oil Platform Workers
Workers on offshore drilling platforms and oil ships often face serious risks from high-pressure systems, heavy machinery, risks of fire and explosions, and even risks from transportation accidents to and from the ship or platform. These dangers can also include the risk of injury from lifting cargo, moving barrels, and operating cranes to load and offload oil as well.
Cruise Ship Workers
There are many jobs on cruise ships, each of which carries different risks. Seamen responsible for loading and offloading cargo and luggage can face injuries from lifting and carrying, cooks and chefs can face burns and cuts in the kitchen, servers and bartenders can slip and fall on wet surfaces or cut themselves on broken glass, and other workers could face injuries from dangerous conditions. Even cruise ship entertainers and other crew face risks of injury from assault or sexual assault committed by coworkers or passengers.
Yacht workers and other crew for luxury vessels like sailboats and pleasure craft often run the risk of injury from unsafe conditions, such as unrepaired handrails and slippery decks. These workers are also often at the whim of their employer, meaning that they could end up swept out into a dangerous storm or subjected to unwanted touching or sexual assault if the employer does not keep their safety as a top concern.
These are just some of the examples of injuries ship workers can face in some of these jobs. If you were injured in another type of accident or while working on a different type of ship, our Miami crewmember accident attorneys may still be able to help with your case.
Filing a Lawsuit for Injuries While Working on a Yacht in Miami
If you were injured in any of these ways or because of any other accident or dangerous conditions while working on a yacht in Florida, you might be entitled to file a lawsuit. While Florida law uses workers’ compensation for most workers, sailors, seamen, and yacht workers are often excluded from this system. This means that they can sue their employers and yacht owners for injuries they caused.
To prove an injury case against a yacht owner or your employer, you must prove that they did something wrong that led to your injury. Legally speaking, this is known as “negligence,” and is based on four elements:
- The defendant owed you a duty in your capacity as a yacht crewmember.
- The defendant breached that duty.
- The breach of duty caused your injuries.
- You suffered injuries and damages you can get compensation for.
Claiming that the defendant failed to keep the yacht seaworthy or failed to take reasonable steps to keep employees safe is a common claim to make in these cases. In other cases where injuries were caused by intentional acts of violence, you can sue the individual who assaulted you, but the owner or operator of the yacht might share responsibility because they provided negligent security.
Call Our Miami Crewmember and Boat Staff Injury Lawyers
The crewmember lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. bring with them over 75 years of combined experience. We can analyze what happened in your case and develop strategies to fight your case and work to get you full and just compensation for your injuries. For a free legal consultation and more information about where to file your claim and how to start working to get compensation for your injuries, call our Florida yacht crewmember injury lawyers today at (866) 386-1762.