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Unseaworthiness Vessels and What It Means to Maritime Workers


Posted in High Seas, High Risk: Offshore Injury on May 14, 2018


In this modern era, sea vessels should be safer than ever. Advanced technology has innovated the materials and design of vessels to ensure their maximum safety. Owners of these vessels must ensure that their ships are seaworthy by maintaining them according to safety standards. When vessels are compromised and pose a danger to the maritime workers depending on them, the owners can be held accountable under maritime law.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to a vessel’s unseaworthiness, you should consider enlisting the help of an attorney. As the leading Gulf Coast maritime lawyers, the experienced legal team of Lapeze & Johns is ready to answer any questions you have about your case. Contact us today at (713) 739-1010 for a free initial evaluation.

To help you get started, we have included some commonly asked questions about unseaworthiness vessels and what that means to maritime workers.

What exactly does it mean when a vessel is considered unseaworthy?

Under maritime law, there are three components to a seaworthy vessel: its hull, equipment, and crew. If any of these components are not functioning at full capacity, then the vessel may be considered unseaworthy.

Though it’s easy to assume that a ship’s seaworthiness depends only on whether it can mechanically run or not, that matters less than whether the ship is a safe working environment. A ship with faulty equipment that may cause harm to its workers is less seaworthy than a ship with a stalled engine that cannot run.

Another common myth about the unseaworthiness of vessels is the idea that the vessel has to be at risk of sinking. In reality, it all comes down to the condition that the vessel’s equipment, hull, and crew are in.

How does unseaworthiness affect maritime workers?

Maritime workers may be injured on the job if they are on an unseaworthy vessel. For example, seamen risk drowning or other serious injuries from capsizing or sinking if the hull of a vessel is compromised.

Seamen also risk injury if the equipment and tools they use each day on the job are not properly maintained or fail in their designed purpose.

Finally, the lives of seamen depend on the skill and capacity of the crew they work with. Crews may become unseaworthy if they fall ill to food poisoning or there is an outbreak of sickness on the vessel. Crews may also be unable to safely function if they lack the proper training needed or are too few in number.

How do you get compensation for injuries caused by a vessel’s unseaworthiness?

The burden of proof for showing causation is lower for maritime workers than land workers. Under the Jones Act that governs maritime workers’ rights, a plaintiff only needs to prove that their employer’s or ship owner’s negligence played any part in the injury caused by an unseaworthy vessel. In contrast, a worker on land must show that their employer’s negligence is the major cause of their injury.

An experienced Gulf Coast maritime lawyer can help you determine whether your employer or the sea vessel’s owner should be held liable and help explain the compensation process. In most industries, work-related injuries can be handled through an administrative body that oversees the relationship between employers and their employees. Injuries that occur to maritime workers, however, have to go through state or federal court and are governed by maritime law. Instead of filing a claim, seamen must file a lawsuit to seek restitution. Having a maritime lawyer can greatly help in explaining your rights and improving your chances of being compensated for your loss and injuries.

Workers in any field expect a safe working environment, but maritime workers are especially vulnerable when out at sea. If their vessel is considered unseaworthy, whether from an inadequate crew, faulty equipment, or a compromised hull, then they are entitled to seek compensation. Holding vessel owners accountable not only protects your rights, it also helps prevent further injuries to other seamen. Don’t hesitate to seek justice if you have been injured on an unseaworthy vessel.

Contact the Houston maritime lawyers at Lapeze & Johns if you have been injured as a result of a unseaworthy vessel.

With more than 20 years of experience in handling maritime claims, Christopher Johns and Keith Lapeze are passionate about defending those who were hurt while working at sea.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the unseaworthiness of a vessel, contact us today at (713) 739-1010 today for a free initial consultation. Our Houston-based law firm has the resources to successfully navigate maritime law and defend your rights. You don’t have to bear the burden of someone else’s mistake alone. We are ready to help you get your life back on track.