An “Unseaworthy Vessel” Is a Theory of Recovery Under the Jones Act

An “Unseaworthy Vessel” Is a Theory of Recovery Under the Jones Act

A maritime attorney who is preparing to file a claim under the Jones Act on behalf of an injured seaman must state a theory of recovery that is recognized under the law. Under the Jones Act, there are several theories of recovery or situations that could support a request for compensation benefits. One of the most common theories that is used by a maritime attorney involves unseaworthy vessels.

Under the Jones Act, a ship owner has an absolute duty to provide a seaworthy vessel. If a vessel is not seaworthy and a maritime employee is injured, the employee made have a claim for benefits under the Jones Act based upon this theory. In the case of Mayne v. Omega Protein, Inc., 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 5650, a fisherman was injured when a ring on one of the fishing nets that he was using got caught on the side of his vessel. This caused the ring to break and strike the fisherman in the face. The fisherman suffered severe injuries to his face and spine as a result of the incident.

The fisherman in this case contacted a maritime attorney who filed a claim on his behalf under the Jones Act. The maritime attorney used the “unseaworthy theory” to demonstrate that the fisherman was entitled to compensation benefits. Basically, the maritime attorney argued that if the vessel had been “seaworthy” the ring on the net would not have gotten caught on the side of the ship and caused the fisherman’s injury. The court agreed with the fisherman’s maritime attorney and awarded the fisherman $37,801 for past wage loss, $226,196 for future wage loss, $25,000 in past medical expenses, $75,000 for future medical expenses, $300,000 for past pain and suffering and $400,000 for future pain and suffering.

If you have been injured while working on a ship, it may be because the vessel was unseaworthy. If this is the case, you may be entitled to a variety of compensation benefits under the Jones Act or other recovery laws. A maritime attorney can evaluate your case to determine if a theory of recovery, such as unseaworthiness exists in your case. You should contact a maritime attorney as soon as possible after an injury to ensure that your right to compensation is protected.

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