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Compensation for Injuries Caused by Unseaworthy Vessels

Articles May 26, 2017

Under maritime law, ship owners have a legal responsibility to maintain their vessels in seaworthy condition. This requirement is designed to make sure that workers onboard tankers, freighters, tugboats, barges, supply boats, crew boats and other vessels are not put at risk by dangerous conditions that can – and should – be avoided with proper care.

Unfortunately, many vessel owners fail to meet their duties. Unseaworthy conditions are far too common, and too often they leave offshore workers suffering from serious, and sometimes life-changing, injuries. If you were injured as the result of an unseaworthy condition, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation, and it is critical that you stand up for your legal rights.

Understanding Your “Unseaworthiness” Claim

Unseaworthiness claims are unique from most other types of injury compensation claims because they are subject to the rule of “strict liability.” Under strict liability, a vessel owner is liable for injuries resulting from an unseaworthy condition regardless of whether the owner caused the condition, and even regardless of whether the owner knew the condition existed. If you were injured on a vessel and you can establish that an unseaworthy condition is to blame, the law entitles you to financial compensation.

What constitutes an “unseaworthy” condition? The list is actually longer than you might think. Examples of unseaworthy conditions include:

  • Dangerous conditions resulting from inadequate vessel maintenance
  • Inadequate, inexperienced or unsupervised crew
  • Lack of adequate safety equipment, including first aid kits and floatation devices
  • Old tools or equipment that are in disrepair
  • Spills, debris and other trip hazards on deck
  • Lack of correct equipment to complete the job safely
  • Broken or worn out equipment

See more examples of unseaworthy conditions.

Of course, ship owners will fight vigorously to dispute claims that their vessels are unseaworthy, and there are steps you need to take promptly in order to avoid jeopardizing your rights. If you delay too long in filing an unseaworthiness claim or documenting the defect, you could lose your rights entirely. The best way to preserve your chances of recovering maximum compensation is to speak with an experienced offshore injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Unseaworthy Conditions Entitle You to Full Compensation

While the no-fault provisions of the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act and other maritime laws limit the compensation available to injured workers, if you were injured due to an unseaworthy or dangerous condition, you can seek full financial compensation for your injury-related losses. This includes compensation for your past and future medical expenses and lost wages, as well as your pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and other forms of physical and emotional harm.

Also, keep in mind that a claim for unseaworthiness might not be your only option for securing compensation after a maritime or offshore accident. The Jones Act may give you a separate claim against your employer, and maritime negligence laws may entitle you to file additional claims against other third parties as well.

Speak with Experienced Offshore Injury Lawyer David P. Willis

If you were injured working offshore, offshore injury lawyer David P. Willis can help you fight for just compensation. Licensed in Texas and New York, Mr. Willis has over 30 years’ experience representing injured maritime workers nationwide. To get started with a free, confidential consultation, call 1-800-GOT HURT or tell us what happened online today.

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