When Can I File an Unseaworthiness Claim?
Maritime workers making a claim under the Jones Act may also be eligible to make an unseaworthiness claim. An injured seaman can file unseaworthiness claims for injuries that result due to unsafe conditions on a vessel. Those unsafe conditions can range from tools and equipment that are not properly maintained and slippery work surfaces, to crews that are too small and co-workers who have a tendency toward violence and assault. Unseaworthiness, therefore, covers an entire range of conditions that workers may not always be aware of.
A vessel owner is required to provide a seaworthy vessel. In simple terms, this means a vessel:
- Is in a reasonably fit condition for the purpose for which it is intended
- Has safe and properly functioning equipment and tools
- Has safe work surfaces and other work conditions
- Provides sufficient safety devices, fire fighting systems, and life saving equipment to all crewmembers
- Provides safe working conditions
- Provides enough crew members
- Provides competent and experienced crewmembers
Maritime lawyers may represent Jones Act seamen who were injured as a result of: slippery or greasy surfaces, assault by a drunk crewmember, the negligence of an incompetent crew member, slipping and falling from a defective ladder, lifting equipment too heavy for them, or an illness exacerbated because there were not sufficient medical supplies on board. These are just some examples of the kind of injuries that can result in an unseaworthiness claim against an employer. Unseaworthiness claims may be pursued in addition to a separate Jones Act claim by a seaman.