What is the “Unseaworthiness Doctrine”?
Maritime workers face many dangers. Because of this, there are several laws in place that protect the rights of maritime workers when an accident occurs.
One of these protections is the Unseaworthiness Doctrine under General Maritime Law. General Maritime Law dictates that owners and/or operators of motor vessels owe seamen an absolute and non-delegable duty to provide a “seaworthy” vessel that is reasonably suitable for its intended purpose.
Generally, this means that a vessel owner/operator has a duty to provide a safe vessel to prevent offshore injury to maritime workers. If the vessel owner fails in this duty, then the maritime worker has the right to bring an unseaworthiness claim against them to recover compensation for the damages they suffered.
Offshore Injury: When is a Vessel Considered Unseaworthy?
The duty to provide a seaworthy vessel extends to all parts of a motor vessel, including its appurtenances and equipment. Basically, anything connected to the vessel is subject to this Doctrine.
Examples of unseaworthy conditions include the following:
- Lack of non-skid on deck, ladders or in the wheelhouse
- Slippery surfaces
- Worn stairs, ladders, or floors
- Lack of handrails
- Worn equipment and/or tools
- Failure to provide PPE or safety equipment
- Failure to train crewmembers or to provide an adequate crew
- Breach of safety rules or USCG regulations
- Working excessive hours
As stated above, all aspects of a motor vessel, including appliances, equipment, tools, skiff, and even crew, are subject to the warranty of seaworthiness under General Maritime Law. The vessel operator has a duty to provide a safe working environment for seamen and can be held liable for injuries caused by unseaworthiness conditions.
Get Help with Unseaworthiness Claims
If an offshore injury or death was caused by an unseaworthy condition, the seaman or seamen’s family members are entitled to recover from the vessel owner. Types of damages available in an unseaworthiness claim include loss of income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages available under maritime law.
If you or a loved one has suffered an offshore injury, contact Lambert Zainey today. Our attorneys have over 35 years of experience handling offshore injury claims. Call today.