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Maritime/Offshore Injury

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What Is A Certificate of Inspection?

Hundreds of years ago, vessels had to pass certain inspections before setting sail on the high seas. These vessels eventually found their way to new continents and led to modern civilization as we know it. Since this point, maritime law has progressed immensely to cover incidents which occur at sea, whether caused by sailors and workers, or the craftsmanship of the vessel itself. A certificate of inspection is one way to guarantee that no defective components exist on a vessel prior to shipping away from shore.

Certificate of Inspection

The United States Code defines a certificate of inspection as the certificate issued by the Secretary after a vessel has been found to be in compliance after an inspection. An inspection must occur before each vessel is put into service, and must occur annually if it carries more than 12 passengers on a foreign voyage, or once every 5 years if the vessel does not partake in a foreign voyage. The certificate must be framed and located in a visible location onboard the vessel. A vessel which does not display the certificate of inspection may be moored onshore until the certificate is acquired. This may require the vessel operator to repair any deficiencies found on the craft.

Many vessels are subject to inspection, including the following:

  • Freight Vessels
  • Offshore Supply Vessels
  • Passenger Vessels
  • Seagoing Barges
  • Oil Spill Response Vessels
  • Towing Vessels

Failure to properly display a certificate of inspection may impact your ability to file a claim in the event of a terrible accident.

What does an Inspection Include?

A vessel is similar to a car in its requirement that it obtain a yearly (or once every five years) inspection to maintain federal compliance. A certificate of inspection relays to passengers and workers that the vessel has complied with rigorous inspection procedures, including the following:

  • Ensuring that the vessel is suitable for service;
  • Ensuring the vessel is equipped with lifesaving, fire prevention, and firefighting equipment;
  • Ensuring that the vessel can properly accommodate its crew, instructors, students and/or passengers;
  • Ensuring that the vessel has enough potable water for drinking and washing;
  • Ensuring that the vessel is in a safe condition; and
  • Ensuring that the vessel complies with all state and federal laws and regulations.

Only after the vessel passes these tests will it be deemed fit for travel at sea.

Malley Law Firm | Houston Maritime Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been injured on a vessel that recently failed an inspection, you may be entitled to receive compensation for any injuries sustained as a result of an accident. Inspections of any type of vehicle and vessel serve an important role in society: to ensure that accidents will not occur and all machinery is updated. The failure to timely provide an inspection may easily lead to an accident for a variety of reasons. Tony Malley is an experienced maritime law attorney and can assist you in drafting your claim and protecting your rights. Contact our Texas offices today for your initial free consultation.


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