Attorney at Law

First Steps to Take When You've Been Injured on a Cruise Ship as a Crew Member

Daisy Rogozinsky
March 13, 2023
Last reviewed by
Joanna Smykowski
April 7, 2024

Cruise ships have a duty of care to their employees to provide safe working conditions and adequate training that meet industry standards. This includes inspecting and maintaining equipment and making sure employees are trained to carry out their duties safely. 

If a crew member of a cruise ship is injured, the employer may be held liable if it is found that their negligence led to the injury. These types of cases are governed by maritime law, which governs disputes that occur on ships. 

If you’ve been injured as a crew member on a cruise ship and your employer is responsible, there are certain steps you can take that will increase your chances of winning a civil lawsuit and receiving compensation for the losses associated with your injury. We review these steps below.

1. Seek Medical Help

The first thing you should always do when you’re injured is to seek the necessary medical care and have your injuries treated. Not only is this important for your own health and well-being, but it also establishes a medical record that can be used as evidence in a personal injury claim against your employer. In fact, injured people who did not seek out medical care often lose their lawsuits for this reason. Be sure to request your medical records at the end of your visit.

2. File an Incident Report

An essential step that you should always take after a workplace accident is to file an official incident report with your employer. The cruise ship should have procedures in place for documenting accidents and injuries that happen on board. Even if your injury is minor, it’s important to go through this process. It will serve as an important piece of evidence in case you decide to move forward with a lawsuit against your employer. 

3. Document and Photograph

As soon as you are physically able to do so safely, it’s important to document as much as you possibly can about your injury, including the scene of the accident. This includes writing down your recollections of what happened, as well as taking note of:

  • Where the accident happened
  • What caused the accident
  • Who witnessed the accident (and their contact information) 
  • What you were doing at the time of the accident
  • Equipment you were using
  • Any safety hazards you encountered
  • Instructions you were given by a co-worker or superior leading up to the accident

Additionally, it’s important to document the scene with photographs and videos. Take photos of the place where the accident happened, as well as your injuries. It is especially important to photograph any faulty equipment that may have led to your injuries. 

If you must leave the scene of the accident urgently in order to receive medical care, it can be helpful to ask somebody you trust to take photographs of it for you so there is a photographic record of what it looked like immediately after the accident.

4. Gather Evidence

Once you are feeling better, you should work on gathering documents and evidence related to the accident, including its circumstances and consequences. This includes things like:

  • Incident reports
  • Medical records
  • Ship’s logs
  • Doctor’s notes
  • Statements from witnesses 

To whatever extent you can, try to have documentation of any negative effects the accident had on you, such as on your finances or mental health. For example, if you had to miss work because of the accident, gather records of your absence.

5. Be Careful What You Say

If you plan to file a lawsuit against your employer, it’s important to be careful about who you talk to and what you say. Your employer and their representatives may attempt to get you to take responsibility for the accident. If you do so, this can harm your case. For this reason, it’s important to say as little as possible, allow your legal representatives to take over communication, and never take responsibility for your injury.

6. Hire a Lawyer

The most important thing you can do if you decide to file a lawsuit is to retain legal counsel. Aim to find a maritime personal injury lawyer with experience in cases like yours. Remember, maritime law is different from the law that applies to accidents that happen on land. It’s important that your attorney be familiar with admiralty law in particular. 

The right lawyer can be the difference between winning and losing your case, receiving the most possible compensation and the bare minimum. Contact a maritime lawyer for a free review of your case.

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