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Louisiana maritime law: When unseaworthiness leads to injuries

| May 23, 2019 | admiralty & maritime law

When maritime workers in Louisiana suffer injuries while on the job, certain laws are in place to help them recover their losses. One maritime law, in particular, allows these employees to hold vessel owners responsible if evidence of unseaworthiness exists in their cases. How is unseaworthiness defined?

In order for a vessel to be deemed seaworthy, it, its equipment and its crew have to be fit for use. This means that the ship itself should be in good repair — this does not mean it has to be accident-free. This also means that equipment needs to work properly, adequate safety gear is provided to the crew and team members themselves are not defective. A defective crew member would be someone who is not competent to handle the job or who acts in a negligent manner, putting other team member’s safety at risk.

So, a ship that is unseaworthy is one that is not fit for use, its crew is incompetent or its equipment is unsafe — or all of the above. It is the sole responsibility of the vessel owner to ensure his or her ship and crew are seaworthy. A vessel owner who fails to do this may be held financially liable for any injuries suffered by crew members.

The burden of proof in unseaworthiness injury cases is actually very light. It may not take much to establish vessel owner negligence. Louisiana maritime workers who think that they may have unseaworthiness claims can turn to a maritime law attorney for assistance in determining if pursuing legal action in an effort to seek compensation for their losses is appropriate.