After a five year legal battle, an injured Carnival Cruise Line employee may finally be compensated for his injuries. This story is a shocking example of how ineffective maritime injury arbitration clauses can be for injured workers. It also raises concern about cruise ship injuries and how employees and passengers can find relief.
Cruise Line Employee Suffers Maritime Injury
In 2014, 30-year-old Genti Jankula was working on the Carnival Valor ship. On December 7, 2014, Genti attempted to climb into his bunk when the handle ripped off the wall. Genti fell backward resulting in a broken back.
Carnival sent Genti home to Albania for medical treatment where he was diagnosed with multiple spinal fractures. In 2015, Carnival stopped paying for his treatment. Genti contacted an attorney, who for more than a year tried to get Carnival to provide more care. Carnival refused, and in 2016, the matter was taken before an arbitrator. Per Carnival’s employee agreements, legal matters must be resolved through arbitration. Employees cannot sue the company in federal court. The arbitration clause states that employees must resolve disputes using a private arbitrator paid for by Carnival. The arbitration must follow Panamanian law, as Carnival is a Panamanian company.
In September 2018, Carnival was found to be negligent and was ordered to pay Genti $1.4 million in damages. The award included medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Carnival contested the award citing unfair treatment. He never paid Genti the amount ordered.
In November 2018, Genti sued Carnival in federal court, asking a judge to compel Carnival to pay him. Finally, in September 2019, a U.S. District Judge ruled that Carnival must pay up. Not only must they pay the $1,357,831.40 award, but they are also required to pay $186 per day in interest.
For Genti, he hopes that Carnival will finally pay up. He still requires medical care, and now lives with his mother in Albania. He lives with chronic pain and a diminished quality of life due to the injuries.
Maritime Injuries Caused by Falls
Fall injuries like the one that Genti suffers from are not uncommon. In fact, slip, trip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of maritime injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that more than 40 percent of maritime injuries are due to falling.
There are many factors that increase the risk of falling while onboard a ship. Some of these factors include:
- Slippery surfaces
- Lack of non-skid surfaces
- Inadequate lighting
- Improperly secured cargo
- Poorly maintained facilities
- Lack of guardrails or barriers
- Unmarked hazards or obstructions
- Inadequate housekeeping
Given the nature of ships, it is easy to see how slips, trips and falls can happen. Spinal cord injuries caused by a fall accident are often devastating. Victims often report long-term pain and mobility issues, and many suffer paralysis or permanent disability.
What to Do After a Maritime Injury
If you work onboard a cruise ship and have been injured while at sea, the first thing you should do is contact a maritime injury lawyer. Workers in the maritime industry do not qualify for standard workers’ compensation rights. Maritime work injuries fall under maritime law. A maritime injury lawyer can help you understand your rights and what options you have for recovery.
Maritime workers who are injured while at sea are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. These benefits are similar to standard workers’ compensation benefits in that they provide coverage for medical expenses, housing and food. Basically, normal costs of living. Maintenance and cure benefits are available to all maritime workers regardless of the cause of the accident.
In cases where an employer, ship owner or other party’s negligence caused your injuries, you may also be able to pursue compensation under the Jones Act. This law allows injured workers the ability to sue another party whose negligence caused their injuries. The Jones Act provides compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity (disability)
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
In order to sue another party, you must be able to prove that your injuries are the result of their negligence. This can be tricky since insurance companies will often argue that you are at fault. This is another reason why a skilled maritime injury lawyer can help.
Get Legal Support From Maritime Injury Guide
At Maritime Injury Guide, we have a team of lawyers who know how to handle maritime injury claims. If you have been injured while working on a ship at sea, it is important to know what your rights and options are.
As you can see from Genti’s story, many maritime employers require arbitration and prohibit you from suing if you suffer an injury. This is in the company’s best interests and certainly not yours. Fortunately, you can fight for your legal rights, and the compensation you deserve as a maritime worker. The team at Maritime Injury Guide is here to help.
Find out more by requesting a free injury consultation. You can call us toll free at 1-866-871-8422, or reach out online by completing our online contact form.