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What is "seaworthiness" under admiralty law

Accidents and injuries that occur in the open waters are subject to admiralty and maritime laws. As was discussed in a previous post on this blog, the Jones Act is perhaps the most important law affecting this area. But this act can be complex. Therefore, we hope to clarify some important aspects of this realm of law so that those who wish to pursue a claim based on admiralty and maritime law can do so with confidence.

This week we will briefly touch on unseaworthiness. Seaworthiness is a critical aspect of maritime law, as vessel owners have a duty to keep their vessels in a seaworthy state. Those who fail to do so may be held liable for injuries suffered as a result.

So what is deemed seaworthy? A vessel is considered seaworthy if it, its component parts, and its equipment are in a condition to reasonably fulfill their purposes. Additionally, there must be an adequate number of crew members who are competent enough to perform their assigned duties. It is worth noting that vessel owners do not have to have the best equipment and crew, but they are instead held to a reasonableness standard.

Those who have suffered an injury while offshore can sustain significant loss. Medical expenses and lost wages can take a toll, leaving a victim in a precarious financial situation. Yet, if unseaworthiness can be proved, then a legal claim against a vessel owner may be strengthened, increasing the likelihood that he or she will recover compensation. Those who wish to learn more about this area of law and how it might help them should consider seeking legal counsel.

Source: U.S. Courts, "7.6 Unseaworthiness Defined," accessed on July 3, 2016

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