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Did The Cruise Line Lie About The Death Of A Crew Member?


The family of a South African crew member was shocked to learn that their loved one and daughter had inexplicably died of what they were told were “natural causes”. The cruise line told them that the crew member had been brought to the hospital after she was vomiting blood and then returned for her shift where she collapsed and died.

The family wanted to see the body but were denied access on several occasions until they browbeat police officers for access. Eventually, when they did find the body, they noted that their loved one had a severe head injury. It also appears that her neck was broken. The cruise line did mention that the police were still investigating the death.

While the family maintains that the cruise line is stonewalling every attempt to get answers, the cruise line maintains that they are in close contact with the family and have provided needed support. It remains unclear precisely how the woman died.

What happened? 

There are two possibilities. The first is that the crewmember was murdered by malice. If that’s the case, it must be determined if she was murdered by a fellow crewmember or a passenger. The second possibility is that she died by an accidental fall that accounts for the head injury and the broken neck. But details are scarce, so we can only play out the various scenarios.

If the crewmember were an American (she is not) she would be entitled to protections under The Jones Act which affords all crew aboard a vessel specific protections. These protections include the right to sue an employer if they have committed some form of negligence that results in the death of one of their employees. Most American employees do not have this right. Instead, they are afforded workers’ compensation coverage which pays out in the event of an accident or death.

In this case, if the victim were an American, her family would be able to sue on the grounds that her employer did not protect her from an open and obvious danger or that some defective condition aboard the ship led to her death. In both of these cases, the plaintiff would have to pinpoint some act of negligence. If she was killed by a crewmember, then there was likely some indication beforehand that the crewmember was a threat. If she was killed by an accident, then a determination that a dangerous condition aboard the ship caused her death would be necessary. In either case, the employer would be held liable if the plaintiffs can prove that the potential for injury or death was predictable.

Talk to a Miami Maritime and Jones Act Lawyer Today

 If you have been injured aboard a vessel, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford today to arrange a free consultation and discuss your situation in more detail.



  • American Association for Justice
  • Florida Justice Association
  • Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice

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Contact the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. for a free initial consultation with Michael Guilford. Flexible appointment times are available. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. Call toll free 866-473-2636 or describe your injuries in an email.

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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

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