What Constitutes Unseaworthiness?

A Jones Act seaman has the right to a seaworthy vessel. Seaworthiness can include a whole range of conditions that must be met, from the structure and condition of the vessel, to the crews that man it. Therefore, a vessel owner must provide every seaman a vessel that is safe, and free from accident and injury hazards. There are a number of conditions that may qualify as unseaworthiness on a vessel, from grease and oil posing a slip and fall accident hazard on a deck, to malfunctioning equipment or machinery injuring workers. The vessel must be well-built, have an adequate hull, and be outfitted with life preservation gear, like firefighting equipment, life preservers, and life rings. This life preservation equipment must be in sufficient quantity for all the crew members on board, and must be well fitting. Additionally, crewmembers must be trained to use the equipment. Seaworthiness can also include safe facilities for the members of the vessel. That includes enough quantities of food for all crew members, a nutritious diet, and safe and hygienic food preparation and hygiene practices that eliminate the risk of food poisoning on board. The concept of seaworthiness can go beyond the physical conditions and comfort of crew members to their competence. Vessel owners must make sure that the vessel is manned by competent, well-trained crew members who are aware of their responsibilities. If any of these conditions are not met, a seaman may file an unseaworthiness claim against the vessel owner. Unseaworthiness claims are filed against the owner of the vessel and not the employer. Brian Beckcom is a maritime lawyer representing persons injured in cargo vessel and container ship accidents, offshore oil rig accidents, commercial fishing vessel and cruise ship accidents, and other kinds of maritime accidents across Texas and nationwide.

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