What are your rights as a Crew Member?

In this article we will discuss some situations, wrong practices, incidents and accidents where crew members are often harmed, end up injured or even result in death. As always, our website will provide everything you need to know about the different aspects of working at sea, which cases you might encounter and how eligible you or your family are to some kind of compensation in the worst case scenario.

On cruise ships and yachts, crew members are involved in incidents and accidents on a routine basis. Because of a maritime worker’s fear of losing his or her job or facing reprisal for reporting an accident, mishaps are not always reported. Even if injuries are reported, sometimes too much time elapses between the injury and the claim, leaving the crew member with extremely limited options, or no options at all for recovery. It’s well spread around the #shiplife worldwide community that crew members don’t always receive the proper medical care or compensation they deserve for shipboard-related injuries, receive less money than what is disclosed on their salary and end up facing abuses from colleagues and mostly superiors that could lead to very serious traumas.

Tender crash situation that happened on a cruise ship

For example, under the Jones Act, a seaman injured in the course of employment can bring a lawsuit against his employer. And to be considered a “seaman,” the worker must aid in the navigation of the vessel or contribute to the mission of the vessel. For example, all the crew members working on board a cruise are considered seamen because they aid in the mission of the vessel, which is to provide cruise vacations, and the same applies to yacht crew. If you have become ill or have suffered an injury while working onboard a cruise ship or yacht, you are entitled under the law to receive a compensation for it.

By now maybe you’ve been asking yourself which is the best law firm to get in touch with, and which one we recommend to our visitors. As always, we do our own research and bring to you only the best of the best articles, texts and general information, so in this case, contacting a professional service to help you wouldn’t be different!

Broken leg on a cruise ship accident

Generally speaking, all seafarers have rights under maritime laws to receive wages and tips, proper medical care, food, shelter, transportation and other benefits previously disclosed on their contracts. No matter from which country you’re from, no matter which is the flag of convenience of the ship, no matter for which cruise or yacht company you work for, all these topics must be covered by your company. But what happens when they don’t?


Well, a good, experienced maritime lawyer will be able to best advise a crew member on the best course of action in a particular situation.  Consulting with a lawyer is confidential, so a crew member who is experiencing potential legal issues should get in touch with an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible after the incident without fear that his employer will find out.  The lawyer may advise the crew member to continue working and wait, or the advise may be to do something else immediately.

Without a doubt, we seriously recommend the one and only:

Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A.

Lipcon, Margulies and Winkleman

In 1971, Charles Lipcon founded this law firm because he wanted to help people who were treated unfairly by the cruise ship industry, and, as the largest maritime law firm with over 50 years in service, they truly know how it feels to have been mistreated and harmed after taking care of thousands of crew members worldwide, and the best part is that they offer a free consultation service. A specialized person will listen and pay attention to all your inquiries and help you out sort any claims you might have, and then and only then they will proceed with the correct course of action.

In order to help you understand which kind of situations you might be eligible to a compensation, we prepared a special FAQ that will for sure help you out by asking questions like:

What kind of situations are eligible when it comes to working on a cruise ship or yacht?

Personal injury (or wrongful death), poor medical care and sick wages (maintenance and cure), unpaid wages, termination of employment, instances of harassment including but not limited to rape and sexual harassment during employment, issues related to fraud such as being asked to falsify work/rest hour or by filling reports of oil/waste discharge logs.

Am I eligible no matter where I am from or which cruise line I work for?

The protective laws in the United States for crewmembers reach well beyond the United States.  For example, LMW regularly represents crewmembers from dozens of countries that work for shipping companies that are incorporated outside the United States.  This is the situation in most cruise line cases – crew are from outside the US and the cruise ship is flagged under another country outside the US and the cruise line is even incorporated outside the US – but the US laws often apply to the crew because the cruise line has headquarters in the US.

What happens after I contact Lipcon? Do I need to be on board?

When someone contacts LMW being on board or not, you can expect to be connected very quickly with one of their 12 experienced maritime lawyers who will provide quick and pointed advise about the immediate steps that need to be taken and the long term goals to address the crew member’s legal issues and concerns.  Thereafter, LMW will open a case file, and when the time is right, will work to either settle the claim directly with the employer or will file a lawsuit or arbitration and will work diligently within the system to obtain compensation for the crewmember and maximize the value of the crewmember’s claim.  Because of LMW’s size and expertise, calls and inquiries are returned quickly, claims are resolved swiftly, and recoveries are maximized so that the crewmember may receive information and answers while LMW works to obtain the financial and medical help their client’s need.

Should I expect to receive large monetary value?

While every case is different, they had great results for their clients and include recoveries well into the eight figures on some cases.  Fore example, LMW represented the estates of crew members who were wrongfully killed while serving aboard the El Faro, a cargo vessel that sank during Hurricane Joaquim.  LMW was able to resolve the claims for these deceased crew members for over $10,000,000!  In another case, LMW obtained a verdict of over $6,000,000 for crew member who died aboard a ship after being exposed to poisonous gas while repairing the sewage system.  LMW handles crew personal injuries and regularly obtains hundreds of thousands of dollars for crew members who have suffered life changing personal injuries to their backs, necks, knees, arms, legs, feet, hands, or other parts of their bodies, making it difficult for them to continue working aboard ships.

I was on board during the COVID-19 pandemic and something happened.

Nearly all crew members were profoundly affected by the COVID pandemic as were nearly all people around the world.  Some people were forced to spend many months aboard ships, without pay.  Those crew members who were made to work or were “in the service of the vessel” during that time, may have claims for unpaid wages or personal injuries (including emotional injuries such as depression which have manifested themselves physically such as producing such anxiety that the person experiences frequent headaches, nausea, vomiting, etc.)  Some crew members may have contracted COVID while onboard and have claims for the physical injuries and limitations produced by COVID.  The more severe the loss to the crew member as a direct result of the pandemic, the more likely that they may have a claim for compensation for their loss.  Again, as each case is unique, crew members (or their immediate family) who have suffered loss or injury should consult with LMW experienced maritime lawyers as soon as possible for more specific answers to address their situation.

Our last piece of advice is a reminder that you never know what will happen in the future, and that something undesirable might happen with you that will affect your own or the life of your family indefinitely. Take the knowledge you learned here and share with your family, friends and even your work colleagues so they be aware in case any situation arises. Don’t wait or hold back contacting someone that will be able to help you, and in that matter, LMW will definitely be there for you.

Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A.

Lipcon, Margulies and Winkleman