The following is a guest blog by fellow lawyer Charles Gourlis who works on cases with us against the cruise lines. Charlie is a bright, hard working fellow. We are glad to have him on our side.
First of all, let me extend a heartfelt thank you to Jim Walker for allowing me to guest blog on Cruise Law News. CLN is such an important resource for cruisers, crew members, the media, and the general public because it disseminates important stories about the cruise industry that often fly under the radar.
I’ve worked alongside Jim and his partners, Lisa O’Neill and Jonathan Aronson, a year-and-a-half and it still amazes me that some crew members receive such horrible medical care from the cruise lines. Some crew members receive adequate treatment, but many do not despite the maritime law's requirement that cruise lines treat their employees as if they were their own children.
What amazes me most is that in the great majority of cases, the cruise lines seem to lose track of their own employees. They simply let their injured crew members “fall through the cracks.” Regardless of whether the cruise line's medical departments are simply overwhelmed and need to hire more personnel to correct the problem, it is a fact that many injured crew members do not receive the prompt, adequate, and complete medical care that they need and are entitled to under the law.
It seems like the case that the cruise lines’ neglect of their injured crew members is rarely benign. I’ve witnessed crew member horror stories that are not reported on CLN which appear nothing less than malicious in nature.
Crew members from Jamaica, Honduras, India, and other nations sign on to work for the cruise lines because they hope for a better life. They sign up for the chance to better their lives, travel the world, and expand their horizons. None of them expect to get injured. I would venture to say that none of them expect to be abandoned back at home if and when they do become injured.
Crew members place their trust in unseen corporate suits half a world away and hope for the best. When they arrive in our offices with broken backs or out-of-control hypertensive, they all say the same thing: How can the "Company" abandon me after I have worked so hard and for so long? Doesn't the Company care?
This reaction is understandable given the backgrounds of most crew members we represent. Most come from societies where a person’s word is their bond. Most injured crew members don’t want to sue their employers; they just want to get healthy again.
Crew members generally idolize the “Company” in a way that most Americans can’t relate to. They sue only as a last resort. Which begs the question: given the reserve of goodwill built up in most crew members, why is it so difficult for the cruise lines to provide crew members with prompt, adequate, and complete medical care?
I would not have a job if the cruise lines treated their employees in the same way that they want to be treated. From what I have seen so far, it looks like I will be handling cases against cruise lines for a long time.
I'll continue to guest blog from time to time when work permits. Please leave your comments and questions below. I’ll be happy to respond.