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Sinking of the Titanic: Workers Comp of Epic Proportions

As we look back at the hundred years which have passed since the sinking of the great Titanic ship, it brings to mind the reality of the situation for every worker employed on the doomed ship. There was an interesting article featured specifically on the band which was employed on the Titanic. In James Cameron’s famous version of the sinking ship tragedy, several band members left a lasting impression as they played on despite the large vessel going under and people running for their lives.

Back in 1912, the Titanic hired band members as non-seamen members of the ship’s crew and at the time, the White Star Line (owners of the ship) refused to pay union scale wages to the performers. According to the rules, the musicians were required to refuse to work if not being paid appropriately. As such, White Star Lines agreed to list the band members as second-class passengers. They were to be paid as independent contractors.

As the ship went down, the band indeed continued to play in order to retain some kind of calm within the storm. Finally, their performance was cut short due to the sinking of the ship yet not one of the band members sought out a lifeboat rescue, nor did any of the band members survive. When it came time to distribute compensation for the deceased crew’s remaining family, none of the band members were eligible for funds under the British Workers Compensation Act since they were working as independent contractors.

Of course no one venturing out on that fateful Titanic journey ever imagined what would come of the venture. At the time, the band likely didn’t consider such consequences when agreeing to the independent contractor compromise from White Star Lines. As with any on the job accident, no one ever expects to be injured or killed performing their daily job duties but the reality is that it does happen. For this reason, all employees should be mindful of their workplace, especially in regards to safety.

Employers need to step up their training and resources for employees in an effort to keep people safe but at the same time should ensure they are abiding by all laws including maintaining workers compensation insurance, regardless of budgetary concerns. In the event the unthinkable happens, employers need to be covered and employees need to protect their rights for recovery.

If you have been injured on the job and have concerns about your workers compensation claim, contact our office for a free consultation by calling toll free at 888-799-3918 or use our online contact form for more information.

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