Vessel owners have a legal duty under the Jones Act and other maritime laws to maintain a “seaworthy” vessel. When the owner of a vessel fails to maintain a seaworthy vessel, they may be liable for any damages that occur to the vessel’s cargo, passengers or crew.
What Does “Seaworthy” Mean?
A seaworthy vessel is one that is fit for its intended use, provides a safe living and working environment for its passengers and crew, is equipped with the necessary safety gear and has an appropriate number of competent and adequately trained crew.
Under the Jones Act, seamen who are injured due to a vessel being unseaworthy have a right to seek compensation for the damages resulting from their injuries. Some of the damages an injured seaman can recover in a unseaworthiness claim include present and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future income, disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering and mental anguish.
What Makes a Vessel “Unseaworthy”?
A vessel doesn’t have to be in danger of sinking to be unseaworthy. A vessel becomes unseaworthy when its owners fail to ensure the vessel is in the appropriate condition to safely and properly perform its intended job. Many factors can contribute to make a vessel unseaworthy, including:
- Improperly maintained vessel
- Vessel not designed for intended use
- Poor living conditions
- Defective safety equipment
- Lack of necessary crew members
- Crew members that are incompetent, improperly trained, or engaged in criminal activities
- Dangerous conditions, such as slippery decks, loose hand rails, broken steps on ladders, etc.
- Poorly maintained equipment and machinery
A seaman’s employers aren’t always the owner of a vessel. It’s the vessel’s owner who has the responsibility to maintain a seaworthy vessel, not the seaman’s employer. The injured seaman may be able to pursue a maritime injury claim against his employer while at the same time filing a third party lawsuit against the vessel’s owner. And an unseaworthiness claim does not require the injured worker to prove negligence on the part of the vessel’s owner.
Speak to An Experienced Unseaworthiness Claim Attorney
If you are a seaman who has been injured due to the unseaworthiness of a vessel you served on, you should consult with an experienced Houston Jones Act attorney without delay. Ricardo N. Gonzalez & Associates is a Houston maritime law firms that understands how to apply maritime laws to help our clients obtain the compensation they deserve after being injured due to the negligence of a vessel’s owner.
Contact the Ricardo N. Gonzalez & Associates to schedule a free consultation with a Houston maritime injury attorney. We are here to discuss the details of your case, answer any questions you may have and provide professional advice on what your next move should be.