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Jones Act

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Claims of Unseaworthiness

The unseaworthiness of a vessel can have a drastic impact on the ability to safely maneuver through tight waterways and ensure the safety of all individuals onboard the vessel. Vessels must go through annual or periodic inspections to ensure the vessel is up-to-date on all maintenance and other items. However, sometimes routine inspections may miss a pivotal defect or a defect may occur during the course of travel. If the unseaworthiness of a vessel led to an accident or injury, you may have a claim for compensation for the resulting injuries.

What is Unseaworthiness?

Unseaworthiness can encompass a wide variety of defects, some having to do with the maintenance of the ship, while others relate to the general upkeep of the ship. The failure of a vessel or a vessel owner to provide individuals onboard the ship with the appropriate supplies and safety assurances can result in “unseaworthiness.”

Examples of unseaworthiness include the following:

  • Inadequate amount of medical supplies
  • Inadequate number of lifeboats
  • Incompetent crew
  • Unsafe work conditions
  • Defective machinery
  • Unreasonably slippery decks or ladders
  • Inadequate safety equipment

Unseaworthiness can stem prior to the departure of the vessel or may occur while the vessel is at sea. Keeping a vessel in reasonably safe condition is the duty of the vessel operator, crew, and captain. Failure to keep the vessel in a safe condition will often lead to unseaworthy claims if an injury resulted from a dangerous condition. Even temporary conditions such as oil, rain, or ice on the vessel may lead to a basis to bring an unseaworthiness claim if an injury stemmed from these conditions.

An experienced maritime attorney will be able to determine whether your claim will fall within the general definition of “unseaworthy.”

Recovery for Unseaworthiness

Claims of unseaworthiness may be brought in addition to general Jones Act claims. Since unseaworthiness can cover a wide variety of issues and claims, it is important to contact an experienced maritime attorney as soon as possible after your injury to determine the scope of the claim. Recovery based on unseaworthy conditions may include the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Future earnings

While these claims may be brought in tandem with a Jones Act claim, they do not necessarily need to be brought together. A Jones Act claim may only be brought against an employer, while unseaworthiness claims are bought against the vessel operator or owner.

The Malley Law Firm | Houston Maritime Law Attorney

If you or a loved one have been injured while onboard a vessel based on the unseaworthy condition of the vessel, do not hesitate to contact the Malley Law Firm. Tony Malley has years of experience in handling accident claims which occur onboard a vessel, many stemming from the unseaworthiness of the vessel. It should not be your responsibility to cover the costs of medical care resulting from your injuries when the vessel operator did not take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the vessel. Contact our Texas offices today for your initial free consultation.


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