Given the nature of working aboard ships, many times captains or officers require crew to undertake jobs which they are not physically suited to perform. Often times, crew members are already sick or injured, and due to short staffing, are required to continue their job duties. Our maritime attorneys have represented crew members whose doctors restricted the amount they could lift and hours they could work; however, when they returned to the ship for “restricted duty”, their employers required them to work as if no physical restrictions were ordered.
The question these injured crew members have is whether their employers are liable when they are hurt performing a job that is too physically demanding. The answer is YES.
The Jones Act requires cruise lines and shipping companies to use reasonable care to prevent injuries to crew members serving aboard their vessels. Courts have routinely found the Jones Act imposes a duty upon employers to assign seamen to jobs for which they are reasonable suited. If a crew member is injured performing a job for which he/she is not physically capable of doing, the employer is liable for the injury. Damages under the Jones Act include, pain and suffering, loss of the enjoyment of life, lost wages and disfigurement.