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Jones Act & Cruise Ships: What You Need To Know

The Jones Act for Cruise Ships

A cruise ship is portrayed as a floating oasis, a place to escape stress and relax in the sun. However, that image doesn’t always live up to expectations, especially for workers. Cruise ship employees often experience grueling working conditions with long hours and not much time off.

Due to the number of passengers and crew members, the size of the ship, and the uncertain ocean environment, cruises can present many dangers.

When a cruise ship employee is hurt, they may receive inadequate medical care or face hostility from supervisors about reporting an accident. If you have been injured while working on a cruise ship, you must hire a skilled maritime attorney. Cruise companies are too powerful to negotiate with on your own. Cruise company lawyers will try to minimize your injury and provide you with inadequate compensation. However, when you hire a lawyer to take over negotiations, you have a better chance of recovering significant payment for your injuries.

What to Know About Our Jones Act Attorneys

Our lawyers know the perils cruise ship employees face. From the maintenance workers who are routinely injured by dangerous equipment to entire ship crews held against their will due to COVID-19, cruise ship employees who meet with us describe terrible experiences. Grossman Attorneys at Law represents employees who have been injured at sea, seeking maximum compensation for victims and their families.

Here are a few things you should know about our law firm:

  • We are seasoned litigators and negotiators, prepared to take your case to trial;
  • We focus exclusively on personal injury and insurance law;
  • We prioritize communication and personalized client service;
  • We extensively research all evidence of cruise ship negligence, hiring investigators and expert witnesses if necessary;
  • We subscribe to cutting-edge services that allow us to research potential expert witnesses and unusual medical conditions; and
  • We are tenacious advocates who will fight for you and your family.

Maritime law is complex, consisting of many different rules and regulations that may apply to your accident. You must hire an attorney who understands the intricate nature of maritime law, which differs from land-based employment law.

One law that protects many maritime workers is the Jones Act. Here, we discuss the Jones Act and cruise ships: what you need to know.

What Is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a US federal law that protects injured maritime workers. This law gives maritime workers the ability to sue their employers over job-related injuries. 

Are cruise ships subjected to the Jones Act? Yes, cruise ships with a base of operations in the US are subject to this law. Many cruise ship employees receive legal protection from the Jones Act. The law can also impact passengers as a Jones Act cruise ships penalty imposes fines on passengers who embark or disembark at the wrong port. 

However, here we focus on the Jones Act’s provisions for injured maritime workers. A Jones Act lawsuit can provide an injured worker and their family much more compensation than is available through maritime common law. 

Traditionally, common law provides maintenance and cure—medical treatment and a daily wage—to injured workers. Maintenance and cure is often inadequate to pay bills and support a recovering worker. The Jones Act offers maritime workers the opportunity to file a lawsuit against their employers, a legal action that land-based employees usually can’t access.

However, the Jones Act for cruise ships doesn’t cover everyone who works on the boat.

Who Can File a Jones Act Lawsuit?

You do not have to be a United States citizen to receive protection under the Jones Act. However, the ship where you work must have some base of operations in the United States. Cruise lines often try to avoid US laws by registering in other countries, but the registration location doesn’t prevent you from filing a Jones Act lawsuit.

To file a lawsuit under the Jones Act, you must be a qualified seaman, which requires:

  • You spend 30% or more of your work hours in the service of the cruise ship on navigable waters, and
  • You substantially contribute to the mission of the cruise ship.

Under this definition of a seaman (a gender-neutral term), the Jones Act offers protection to many cruise ship employees, including these people:

  • Ship captains,
  • Crewmembers,
  • Housekeeping staff,
  • Cooks,
  • Waiters,
  • Bartenders,
  • Entertainers,
  • Maintenance crew, and
  • Childcare workers.

Many other cruise ship employees may receive Jones Act protection as well. A skilled maritime attorney can help you determine whether your role on the ship qualifies for a Jones Act lawsuit. Sometimes, if you work part-time on the ship or work for a contractor, you may not qualify as a Jones Act seaman. However, our attorneys will evaluate every legal path for getting you the money you need under the Jones Act or other relevant maritime laws.

What Does a Jones Act Lawsuit Require?

To win a Jones Act lawsuit, you must show that your employer acted negligently and caused you harm. A negligence lawsuit under the Jones Act requires proving these elements.

Duty of Care

Your employer had a duty to provide you with a safe work environment. This means that your employer must train and supervise employees to conduct ship business safely and to quickly address any hazards.  

Breach of Duty

If there was an unsafe condition on the cruise that your employer knew about or should have known about and they failed to correct it, that is a breach of duty. Even if you were injured due to another employee’s actions, you may be able to sue your employer.

Breach Caused Harm

Your employer’s irresponsibility must have caused or contributed to your harm. If you had a pre-existing injury that wasn’t aggravated by your accident, it doesn’t qualify for damages. 

You can sue over the harm you suffered from your cruise accident or injury. The causation burden under the Jones Act is very low. This means that if your employer’s actions contributed to your injury in any way, you can sue. Proving that a maritime employer contributed to your accident is often much easier than proving causation in a land-based negligence lawsuit.

Damages Resulted

You must have suffered enough harm to justify a lawsuit. For instance, if you got food poisoning, were out of commission for a day with pay, and then returned to work, that probably doesn’t qualify. Your physical or financial injury needs to be substantial. Damages that are eligible for a Jones Act Lawsuit include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

Get Legal Assistance from a Maritime Law Attorney

If you were injured while working on a cruise ship, you need legal assistance immediately.

Though you may have wondered: Does the Jones Act apply to cruise ships? you now know that this law provides potentially lucrative compensation for injured ship employees. We know maritime law can seem confusing, and our lawyers are willing to answer any questions you have about your injury claim.

Contact Grossman Attorneys at Law maritime attorneys online or at (800) 940-8048 for a free consultation. We can discuss your experience and inform you of your legal options. If you hire us, we work on contingency, which means you don’t pay us until we win you money.

We know you’ve suffered enough at the hands of the cruise industry, and we’re ready to help you take the first step toward justice. Contact us today to get started on your Jones Act claim.

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