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Steven M. Lee, PC

Demand Justice When an Unfit Vessel Does You Wrong

The Admiralty entertain themselves now and then, with sending a few hundred men to sea in a ship not fit to be employed.

Although Jane Austen wrote these words almost 200 years ago, unfit vessels are still being deployed. Admittedly, they’re not being deployed by the “Admiralty,” but rather by seafaring and shipping corporations that ought to focus on employee protection. All too often, though, vessel safety is an afterthought—or not even considered at all. The result: thousands of maritime injury claims every year stemming from accidents caused by unseaworthy boats, rigs, and ships.

Unseaworthiness Claims and Injury Compensation

Seamen are protected under the law when they are injured on an unseaworthy vessel. These types of claims can be confusing and are not as cut-and-dried as more straightforward negligence cases. Unseaworthiness claims are a secondary source of recovery for some injured workers. They work in parallel to claims under the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and in some cases unseaworthiness claims can compensate people not covered by those federal laws.

Damages available for unseaworthy vessel accidents are similar to negligence claims. Compensation can include consideration for such things as past and future lost income, past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, and other losses associated with the maritime injury.

Pursuing the Unseaworthiness Claim

When pursuing these types of claims, it’s important to get a firm grasp on the following case requirements:

  • Liability: who is responsible for injuries. An unseaworthiness claim is typically filed against the vessel owner—either a person or a corporation—because it is the owner’s responsibility to keep his vessels well-maintained and safe to navigate.
  • Eligibility: what makes a vessel unfit. A vessel is considered unseaworthy if it’s unable to operate as it is intended, if it shows signs of safety violations, or if it is damaged and could conceivably jeopardize the hull’s integrity. If the vessel is not safe to live and work on, then it is not seaworthy. There must be appropriate safety gear and equipment for all seamen on board.
  • Time limitations: when must you file. When it comes to an injury caused by an unseaworthy vessel, you only have three years from the date of your injury to file your claim. While this may seem like plenty of time, the quicker you take action, the better. Your maritime attorney will need to gather evidence and documentation, as well as investigate your claim to its fullest extent.
  • Rights: how seamen should be protected. The unseaworthy maritime doctrine states that seamen should be guaranteed a safe working environment. When the environment is compromised—whether known or unknown by the vessel’s owner—and injuries result, crew members are given the right to pursue a personal injury claim against the vessel’s owner.

Before you settle with the insurance company regarding your maritime injury, you should consider talking with an experienced attorney. He’ll be able to explain all of your legal rights and ensure that your claim is not only eligible for compensation but also strong enough to demand the compensation you need. Contact attorney Steve Lee today at 800-232-3711 for the legal advice and guidance your future depends on.


Steven M. Lee
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