Claims of Unseaworthiness

A claim of unseaworthiness is a valid option when a maritime worker has been injured on a sea vessel. This claim can only be awarded if it is proven that the vessel was unseaworthy at the time of the incident. It allows the worker to receive compensation for the injury.

The Jones Act and other maritime laws provide for the worker to receive compensation if they have been injured while working on a sea vessel or in the maritime industry. These laws are complex and often have stringent requirements which is why it is important for you to hire an experienced attorney who understands these laws and how they change. We can review prior cases as well as any new statutes to ensure your case moves forward under the relevant statute.

Unseaworthiness Defined

A vessel may be deemed unseaworthy even if it can make a voyage and return safely to port. There are many aspects of equipping a vessel and maintaining it to make it meet the requirements to be seaworthy. This description generally falls into one of two categories. In the first, the ship should be free of major defects that could cause or contribute to an accident. The second relates more to the general maintenance of the ship and provisions for the safety of the crew. Some of these may include the following:

  • Inadequate safety gear or equipment
  • Lack of medical supplies
  • Untrained or unsupervised crew
  • Faulty equipment or defective parts
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Obstacles in walk areas
  • Not enough lifeboats
  • Hazardous conditions or chemicals not properly labeled

The vessel should be maintained to a safe condition while out to sea and when in port.

Injury Claims

Regardless of who employs a worker on a vessel, it is the responsibility of the owner of that vessel to ensure it is seaworthy. If you are injured while performing your normal duties and the vessel is determined to be unseaworthy, you could file a claim against the owner of that vessel even if your employer was someone else.

When you file a claim against the owner for an unseaworthy vessel which led to your injury, you have the right to receive compensation. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses that resulted from your treatment. If you were unable to work for a period of time, you may also be entitled to payment for lost wages as well as future earnings if you have a permanent injury that prevents your return to work. Pain and suffering are another category of damages for an unseaworthy vessel under maritime law.

An unseaworthy claim may be brought against the owner along with a Jones Act claim, which is filed against the employer. In many cases, the vessel owner will be the same person as the employer but not necessarily. In this situation, an attorney will help you determine who is the person responsible and to ensure you file the correct claim. As with other maritime laws, you must file a claim within three years of your accident.

An unseaworthy vessel may lead to an accident, and you may be entitled to receive compensation for this injury. Make sure you know your rights and what type of claim fits your injury by contacting us to help you understand the law and provide you with solid legal advice.

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