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Unseaworthiness on vessels in Alaska

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2023 | Unseaworthiness

Under the Jones Act, the owner of a ship has the responsibility to their workers to ensure that the vessel is seaworthy.

What is a seaworthy vessel?

To be considered seaworthy, a vessel and all its parts must be in reasonable condition to be used safely and its crew must be adequately staffed and reasonably capable of performing the work they are assigned.

The following are the criteria for seaworthiness of the vessel:

  • The vessel must be seaworthy and its seaworthiness must be maintained.
  • The vessel must be in the appropriate shape for its intended use.
  • All of the vessel’s parts and other equipment must be fit. If any of those parts or other equipment is not considered in reasonable shape, it is considered unseaworthy.
  • The vessel’s crew must be able to operate the vessel competently and they must have received training to be able to do their jobs.
  • If any of the crew members were not trained or were unable to do the job for any reason, the vessel is considered unseaworthy.

A vessel must be in a reasonable condition to be used. If the ship is not seaworthy, the vessel’s owner can be held responsible if an employee sustains a personal injury that was the result of that unseaworthiness.

Under the Jones Act, an owner can be held liable for the expenses that are involved with the treatment of those injuries. Those expenses may be for medical bills, lost wages or other injury-related costs. If the vessel’s owner was aware that the vessel was not seaworthy and allowed the seamen to board that vessel, that owner may be criminally responsible as well.

What do you do if you have been injured on an unseaworthy vessel?

If you are a maritime worker who has been injured on a vessel where you were at work, you may have a right to compensation. The vessel’s owner has an obligation to provide you with a vessel that is in good working order and if that owner does not do that, they are liable to cover your expenses because of the injury that you sustained on the unseaworthy vessel.

There are many different ways in which the vessel may not be seaworthy and any one of them may cause an injury to you while you are working on the vessel.