Unseaworthiness is a term that refers to conditions on a vessel, oil rig or production platform that puts seamen and offshore workers at risk of injury or death.
Slippery decks and vessel instability are among the many issues that point to unseaworthiness. This may be the reason you sustained an on-the-job injury and why you may qualify for compensation.
Unseaworthiness is a form of negligence
The owner or operator of a vessel has an obligation to maintain the ship, its equipment and its crew in a seaworthy state. Negligence could result in unsafe conditions and crewmember injury or death. The word “vessel” is used in its broadest sense. Whether the workplace is a ship, an offshore oil rig or a platform, the employer must provide a safe, seaworthy environment for workers to avoid liability.
Examples of unseaworthiness
Unseaworthiness can begin with the design of a ship. Poor design could cause instability in high seas, the risk of capsizing or sinking and significant danger to the crew. It could also extend to the structure of a vessel including the materials used for construction, such as asbestos. Other examples of seaworthiness include:
- Lack of proper safety equipment, safety lines and scaffolding
- Slippery stairs or decks
- Shoddy galley maintenance and poorly designed cooking facilities
- Insufficient medical treatment rooms, equipment and supplies
- Poor living conditions
- Lack of sufficient headroom in sleeping compartments
- Defects in hatches, doors, windows or portholes
- Defects in equipment or machinery
- Lack of spare parts
- Poor loading or cargo storage leading to a risk of vessel instability
- Poorly trained crewmembers or insufficient number of crewmembers
The court makes the final determination of unseaworthiness. Over time, conditions that meet the definition have evolved through court decisions on cases brought by maritime lawyers. If you believe your injury was due to unseaworthiness, explore your legal options to learn more about filing a claim and what kind of compensation you may expect to receive.