If you were injured while working on an offshore vessel, a Houston maritime lawyer may be able to help you recover compensation from a number of different sources. One of these sources may be the vessel’s owner. In order to pursue a claim against the vessel’s owner, we will need to be able to argue that the vessel was “unseaworthy.”
When is a Vessel “Unseaworthy”?
All ship owners owe a legal duty to ensure that their vessels are “seaworthy.” This duty extends not only to the ship itself, but also any “appurtenances” – such as ropes, tools, equipment, and safety gear. The seaworthiness doctrine also requires vessel owners to maintain an adequate crew and avoid placing their crewmembers in risky situations.
Some examples of issues that may render a vessel unseaworthy include:
- Worn out or defective tools and equipment
- Missing or failing safety equipment
- Missing warning signs for open holes or stairwells
- Poorly designed decks with trip hazards or inadequate railings
- Other trip and slip hazards
- Unsanitary conditions and lack of food or clean drinking water
- An understaffed or inadequately trained crew
Failure to adhere to safety regulations, insufficient safety protocols, forcing seamen to work too many hours and providing inadequate supervision for crewmembers can give rise to unseaworthiness claims as well.
Seeking Compensation for Injuries Caused by Unseaworthiness
Unlike other types of injury claims – including claims under the Jones Act – when you seek compensation for injuries caused by unseaworthiness you do not need to prove that the vessel owner was negligent in allowing the unseaworthy condition to occur. In fact, the owner does not even have to know that the condition existed. For unseaworthiness claims, it is enough to be able to show that:
- The vessel was unseaworthy, and
- The unseaworthiness contributed to your injury.
If you can satisfy these two requirements, you will be entitled to recover financial compensation for all of the losses you sustained as a result of your injury. This includes your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other monetary and non-monetary damages.
Unseaworthiness, the Jones Act and Maintenance and Cure
Often, injured seamen will have claims against both the vessel owner and their employer (and, in many cases, these will be the same company). If the facts support it, you can file claims for both unseaworthiness and Jones Act negligence. As a third option, you may also be entitled to maintenance and cure. When you contact us about your injury, we will make sure that we identify all possible sources of compensation in order to recover the largest amount of money possible for your losses.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Maritime Lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard LLP
At Morrow & Sheppard LLP, we offer free consultations to injured seamen. If you have questions about your legal rights or would like us to conduct an investigation to determine if your vessel was unseaworthy, we invite you to give us a call. To speak with an attorney about your case for free, call (800) 489-2216 or tell us your story online today.