Mistreatment of Crew Members: Skirting the Law

Personal Injury, Motor Vehicle, Cruise Ship, Recreational Boating, and Jet Ski Accident Attorneys Serving Florida.

Miami Maritime Attorney John H. (Jack) Hickey Demands the Truth from Cruise Lines

John H. (Jack) Hickey has decades of experience working for and against cruise lines. He knows admiralty and maritime law inside and out, and he knows the duties and obligations cruise lines and vessel owners have when it comes to their crewmembers.

Contact the Hickey Law Firm, P.A. by calling 305-371-8000 today for a free, no obligation consultation if you were a crewmember on a cruise ship and you were injured in a cruise ship accident or a cruise ship assault.

Seaman's Protection Act (46 U.S.C. §2114):

This Act applies to US Flag vessels and to vessels owned by a US citizen or by an entity whose controlling interest is owned by a US citizen.  This includes many yachts. Even though the yacht is titled in the name of a Cayman, British Virgin Island, Marshal Island, or other "offshore" entity, if that "offshore" entity is owned by a US entity or citizen, the Act applies to the yacht and its practices. 

1986.101(d) Citizen of the United States means an individual who is a national of the United States as defined in section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 (a)(22)); a corporation incorporated under the laws of the United States or a State; a corporation, partnership, association, or other business entity if the controlling interest is owned by citizens of the United States or whose principal place of business or base of operations is in a State; or a governmental entity of the Federal Government of the United States, of a State, or of a political subdivision of a State. The controlling interest in a corporation is owned by citizens of the United States if a majority of the stockholders are citizens of the United States. 


A person may not discharge or in any other manner retaliate against a seaman because the seaman:

• Provided information relating to a violation of maritime safety laws or regulations to the U.S. Coast Guard or other appropriate Federal agency or department; refused to lie to the Government about such matters; was about to provide such information (including situations in which the seaman provides information to the employer and says he or she plans to report to the authorities or when he or she has a history of such reporting); or sought the correction of a condition which he or she reasonably believes could result in serious injury or serious impairment of health;

  • Testified in a proceeding brought to enforce a maritime safety law or regulation;
  • Refused to perform duties ordered because of a reasonable apprehension of serious injury or serious impairment of health to the seaman, other seaman, or the public, if the seaman has first requested that the employer correct the dangerous condition;
  • Notified or attempted to notify the vessel owner or the U.S. Coast Guard of a work-related injury or illness of a seaman;
  • Cooperated with a safety investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard or the National Transportation Safety Board; • Furnished information to any public official relating to any marine casualty where there is death, injury or damage to property, occurring in connection with vessel transportation; or
  • Accurately reported hours of duty under Part A, Subtitle II, Title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations.


Complaints must be filed within 180 days after the alleged unfavorable employment action occurs (that is, when the seaman is notified of the retaliatory action). 


  • Back pay
  • Reinstatement
  • Special damages
  • Punitive damages
  • Attorneys fees

See: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3762.pdf 

To the Cruise Lines:

Is it true that you, the cruise line, under maritime law, have an obligation to provide medical care to injured crewmembers until they reach a plateau in their healing (known as maximum medical improvement)?

Is it true that there have been instances when the treating doctor in the crewmember’s home country – usually in a third world country – has recommended surgery or other important medical care, and the cruise lines have used their doctors in Miami to provide a report that says that the crewmember did not need the surgery, without even seeing the patient?

Is it true that there have been instances when the treating doctor in the crewmember’s home country – usually a third world country – has recommended surgery or other important medical care, and the cruise line’s representative, who is paid by the cruise line, has called and talked to the doctor, and within days and without seeing the patient again, the treating doctor has changed his or her opinion and has prepared a different report.

Is it true that the cruise lines have delayed or denied surgery or other medical care to its crewmembers?

Is it true that the cruise lines have required that the crew members communicate with the “ship’s agent” in the crewmember’s home country and that later the cruise line has denied that it has received any requests for medical care? And that the “agent” was not a cruise line employee after all and did not communicate any such requests to the cruise line, because that “agent” got paid for, among other things, bringing crewmembers to the cruise line and taking care of “problems” (and an injured crew member is a “problem”)?

Is it true that there are occasions when the insurance companies for the cruise lines, the Protection and Indemnity Clubs, will advise the ship’s agent to offer a settlement to the crewmembers who are living in third world countries directly, even where the crewmembers are represented by maritime lawyers, therefore going behind the backs of the crewmember’s own legal counsel?

To Crewmembers:

If you were injured while serving on a cruise ship or other type of vessel, please contact the Hickey Law Firm, P.A. to discuss your legal options. Our law office is based in Miami, and we serve clients throughout Florida, all over the United States and worldwide, in some cases.

Call 305-371-8000 to get started. We look forward to serving you.