An unseaworthiness claim, like a negligence claim under the Jones Act, provides a way for injured seamen to be compensated for their injuries (for things like pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages).
The claim is based on the rule that a vessel owner or operator must provide the members of its crew with a seaworthy vessel. This means that the vessel must be reasonably fit for the crew to live and work. If it isn’t, an injured crewmember may have an unseaworthiness claim.
A claim for unseaworthiness is different from a Jones Act claim because you don’t have to show that there was negligence. Still, an injured seaman can bring both a Jones Act claim and an unseaworthiness claim.
Who Can Be Sued for Unseaworthiness?
An injured seaman can bring an unseaworthiness claim against his employer if his employer owns and operates the vessel or if it chartered the vessel. A seaman can still bring an unseaworthiness claim against the vessel owner or operator, even if it isn’t his employer.
What Conditions Can Lead to An Unseaworthiness Claim?
Whether a condition makes a vessel unseaworthy depends on the facts of each case, but the following conditions may allow for an unseaworthiness claim:
- An inadequate crew (either because of numbers, incompetence, or lack of training);
- Unreasonably slippery decks, walkways, or ladders;
- An extreme work schedule (for example, one that violates maximum hour laws);
- Failure to provide proper protective equipment, such as cold weather clothing;
- Misuse of equipment;
- Defective tools or other gear; or
- Failure to instruct crewmembers on the use of life preservers.
Call a New Orleans Maritime Lawyer
Whether you are a seaman and if so, whether you have a claim for unseaworthiness can be difficult to determine and will depend on the facts of your case.
If you’ve been hurt in an offshore accident, The Mahone Firm is here to help. Call a New Orleans personal injury attorney at (504) 564-7342 to talk about your accident. I will meet with you for free to discuss your case and figure out your options.