Many consider the maritime industry one of the most dangerous jobs due to the extreme working conditions brought about by the open sea. Unfortunately, aside from the dangers of the high seas, vessel crews are also at risk of injuries due to the ship or boat being unseaworthy.
Under maritime law, a ship or boat is unseaworthy if it does not provide a safe working environment and suitable or adequate equipment for the crew to perform their tasks. It does not necessarily mean that the vessel is unfit for sailing.
Examples are a lack of or worn-out safety and protection equipment, slipping hazards and improperly designed fixtures. However, unseaworthiness can also be nonvessel-related. It could also be due to untrained crew members, failure to follow safety procedures and other reasons related to the crew.
How does one prove it?
When filing a claim based on unseaworthiness, the claimant must prove that they were injured due to the unsafe conditions of the vessel, faulty equipment or inadequate crew.
If the injured individual successfully brings an action, the court may award them damages under the unseaworthiness doctrine. They may be entitled to compensation for the following:
- medical, hospital and other related expenses
- lost wages, whether present or future
- lost employment benefits
- pain and suffering
However, one must note that the law does not allow the individual to recover damages already covered by “maintenance and cure” benefits. This is to avoid double recovery.
An injury in the workplace can cause a lot of concern, especially regarding medical expenses and the possible adverse effect of the injury on current and future income. Fortunately, maritime laws offer protection to maritime workers.