Unseaworthiness: What it is and why it happens
Being involved in an accident aboard a boat is scary, but once the initial emergency has passed, you may find the aftermath to be even more anxiety-inducing. Figuring out how to move on with your life when you have to deal with an injury can be extremely difficult, and you deserve help.
Before you can figure out whether you have a claim, it’s important to understand exactly what
unseaworthiness means, how it relates to maritime injuries, and how a lawyer can help. Let’s address these topics here so you have the best possible chance of receiving fair compensation.
What Is Unseaworthiness?
According to Oxford Dictionaries, an unseaworthy boat or ship is one that is “not in a good enough condition to sail on the sea.” Dictionary.com adds that a seaworthy vessel is defined as “constructed, outfitted, manned, and in all respects fitted for a voyage at sea.”
And lastly, the United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit says “a vessel is unseaworthy if the vessel, or any of its parts or equipment, is not reasonably fit for its intended purpose [or if its crew is not reasonably adequate or competent to perform the work assigned],” and offers additional definitions as well as the owner’s responsibilities.
How Does Unseaworthiness Relate to Maritime Injuries?
Maritime injuries are those that happen at sea and if you can prove a maritime injury, you are likely to receive compensation from the responsible party. According to the California Law Review at Berkeley Law, “The injured seaman is entitled to medical expenses, past and prospective, indemnity for loss of earnings, past and prospective, and an amount on account of his physical injuries and for pain and suffering.”
These laws are pretty much the same in most states across the U.S., since they are regulated by a federal act known as the Jones Act, also referred to as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920.
Examples of Unseaworthiness
Unseaworthiness can take many forms, and it’s important to be familiar with them if you want to give yourself the best chance of successfully winning your claim. Some common examples include:
- Old, broken, or otherwise malfunctioning equipment or maintenance tools
- Failure to inspect the boat and its equipment on a routine basis
- Unsafe or missing ladders, handrails, steps, pathways or access points, or access equipment without adequate grip
- Cluttered, flooded, slippery, or unsecured decks
- Antiquated or completely missing safety gear
- Untrained, poorly trained, or too few crew members and practice of unsafe work procedures
While these are not the only examples of unseaworthiness, they account for the majority of cases. To learn whether your case qualifies even if it doesn’t seem to fit with these examples, you should get a lawyer’s help.
Get a Lawyer’s Help
If you want to find out more about how to file a claim of unseaworthiness and proceed with the best possible chance of getting compensation, it helps to speak with a qualified, knowledgeable lawyer.
At Lehmbecker Law Firm you can get a free case review to learn how we can help you. Please get in touch to learn more about your options and how we can help today.