Those People You Work With: Maritime Negligent Hiring

Seaworthiness is an important component of maritime law, and it isn’t a concept limited to the vessel itself. Ship owners also have a responsibility to hire a competent crew.

Negligent Hiring

Ship owners must staff their vessels with an adequate number of properly licensed and trained crewmembers. If they fail to do so, the vessel will be considered unseaworthy. When an employer hires a worker who injures another individual at work, that employer may be subject to a negligent hiring claim.

Maritime employers are particularly vulnerable to negligent hiring claims when they fail to:

  • Conduct a criminal background check on prospective crew members.
  • Check employment and personal references.
  • Screen prospective crew members for drug use.
  • Verify college degrees.

Unseaworthiness Doctrine Versus Other Remedies

There are three primary remedies available to seamen who suffer injury or illness due to their work: the unseaworthiness doctrine, the Jones Act, and maintenance and cure.

  • The unseaworthiness doctrine versus the Jones Act. Under the unseaworthiness doctrine, the owner’s duty to provide a seaworthy vessel is absolute. This means that an injured seaman only needs to prove that the vessel was unseaworthy, and that the unseaworthy condition caused his injury, in order to receive compensation. Under the Jones Act, on the other hand, an injured seaman must establish employer negligence in order to prove his claim.
  • The unseaworthiness doctrine versus maintenance and cure. Under maintenance and cure, an injured seaman is entitled to medical expenses, wages until the end of the voyage or season, and room and board expenses during his recovery period. However, under the unseaworthiness doctrine, recovery may include lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and disability compensation.

Pursuing an Unseaworthiness Claim

If you’ve been injured on a vessel rendered unseaworthy by the negligence of another crew member, you need representation by an attorney experienced in maritime law. To learn more, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.

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