Cruise West’s financial troubles have resulted in many unpaid medical bills from injured crewmen. As Cruise West sorted through their financial woes and insurance problems, they stopped paying many injured crewmen their maintenance and cure benefits, leaving the crewmen stuck with medical bills and without funds to support themselves during their recovery.
Beard Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC has filed suit for several such crewmen. We are coordinating our efforts to recover compensation for their injuries and to be reimbursed for medical bills incurred. It is important to realize that under the Jones Act and the General Maritime Law, crewmen have special status and high priority in getting their claims paid. Cruise West vessels are subject to arrest and seizure for payment of these claims. Unfortunately, this can be a long process with various vessel interests battling over who is responsible to pay the crewmen’s bills.
Crewmen who are injured or become ill while working on board cruise vessels, such as those owned by Cruise West, are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits under the General Maritime Law. These basic benefits to a crewmember are no fault remedies, and a crewman does not have to prove fault or unseaworthiness to receive maintenance and cure. Under the Jones Act and unseaworthiness doctrine, a crewman who is injured through unseaworthiness or negligence may receive compensation for his injuries, which may include compensation for past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, and medical and health care expenses.
At least three of the Cruise West vessels is under arrest by the United States Marshals – SPIRIT OF DISCOVERY, SPIRIT OF ’98, and SPIRIT OF ENDEAVOR. When a vessel is under arrest pursuant to Federal Law, a crewman has a limited time to file a claim to recover the compensation he is owed. It is strongly recommended that injured crewmen intervene in the arrest cases as soon as possible in order to protect their rights. The vessels will likely be sold at Marshal’s sale, and the proceeds from the sale should be paid to the injured seamen.