If you think about maritime injuries, your mind probably goes to fishermen, commercial divers, and others who work in roles that exist only in the maritime industry. However, it takes a lot of people to keep a boat running—and they are all at increased risk of injury simply because they work on a boat. For example, vessel cooks and stewards also experience higher-than-average injury rates when compared to people working in similar roles on land.
Have you been injured while working as a vessel cook or steward? Maritime law may entitle you to compensation. Find out more by calling Fuquay Law Firm at 251-219-0329.
What Causes Cook and Steward Injuries?
Human error is always a risk factor in workplace injuries, but it’s not the only danger posed to maritime workers. This work environment is inherently less safe than many other settings, and it takes continuous evaluation to keep it safe for workers. Failure to do so may lead to a vessel becoming unseaworthy and putting maritime workers in serious danger. Common causes of cook and steward injuries include:
- Repetitive use injuries
- Back and shoulder injuries caused by lifting heavy products
- Exposure to unsafe cleaning chemicals
- Exposure to bacteria in poorly preserved or stored food
- Broken or malfunctioning kitchen equipment
- Slippery and uneven flooring
- Insufficient or nonexistent protective clothing
- Fatigue caused by overwork
- Electrical issues
While cooks and stewards may spend most of their time in the kitchen or other relatively safe parts of a ship, that doesn’t mean they don’t face the same dangers as those who work in more conventional maritime roles. If a boat strikes an obstacle or capsizes, cooks and stewards are at just as great a risk of drowning or getting pinned down by equipment as any other maritime worker.
Commonly Reported Injuries
Vessel cooks and stewards report a wide range of maritime injuries. They include:
- Electrical shocks and burns
- Amputations and other limb injuries
- Broken bones or strained muscles caused by falls
- Back and neck injuries
- Drowning caused by being thrown overboard
- Hand and wrist injuries
- Gangway falls
What to Do If You’re Injured While Working as a Vessel Cook or Steward
If you are hurt in your work as a vessel cook or steward, you have rights under maritime law. Regardless of who was at fault for your injury, you are entitled to maintenance and cure. Maintenance provides for your financial obligations while you are recovering. It only pays necessary expenses, such as rent or mortgage, utility payments, and insurance. It does not pay for luxury items or services. Cure refers to the medical treatment you need to reach the point of maximum medical recovery.
If someone was at fault for your injury—generally, your employer or the owner of the boat—you may be able to seek further compensation. The Jones Act allows those in certain maritime professions to collect compensation for pain and suffering if their injuries were the result of an unseaworthy vessel or employer negligence. You may also be able to receive compensation for mental anguish, full lost wages, and other losses.
Maritime law is completely different from the standard workers’ compensation system. Different laws apply depending on which role you fill, which body of water you work in, and where you physically are when the injury occurs. Because of that, it’s important to work with an attorney with extensive experience in maritime law.
Vessel cooks and stewards are generally considered seamen under maritime law, so they fall under the protection of the Jones Act. However, if they suffer a fatal injury, their loved ones may be entitled to further compensation under the Death on the High Seas Act.
You should start by reporting your injury to your direct supervisor or ship captain. They can guide you in your next steps and help ensure that you get the treatment you need.
Discuss Your Maritime Injury with the Team at Fuquay Law Firm
Take your maritime injury claim to the team at Fuquay Law Firm. We’re ready to hold your negligent employer accountable and ensure that you are treated fairly after an injury. Ready to discuss your injury in greater detail and get more specific advice? Call us at 251-219-0329 or email us to set up a meeting right away.