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Lawsuit: Boat where TX worker suffered injuries was unseaworthy

Federal maritime law requires that all operating ships be seaworthy. Seaworthiness not only relates to the condition of the vessel itself; a vessel may also be unseaworthy if the crew is improperly trained or insufficiently supervised.

A Harris County man who worked for a diving services company claims that the unseaworthiness of his employer's ship resulted in his injuries. In March he suffered a fall that he says left him with a spine injury, and he is seeking compensation for loss of earnings, medical expenses, mental anguish and physical pain.

According to the suit, the man fell on the ship's deck after a rope was cut by another crew member. The rope had been connected to a cable, which became strained. The plaintiff claims that the added tension on the cable caused him to fall and suffer multiple injuries.

Maritime workers have specific rights under federal laws, including the Jones Act. If you work on any kind of maritime vessel, including a cruise ship, tour boat, tugboat, barge, drilling vessel, fishing boat or ferry, then you have the right to sue your employer if you suffered injuries because of an unsafe vessel. To prevail in this sort of strict liability case, you don't have to prove that your employer was aware the ship was unseaworthy. It is only necessary to prove that the vessel was in fact unseaworthy.

If a boat is undermanned, for instance, then the employer may be held liable for any injuries resulting from the unsafe condition of the boat. An employer may also be held liable if a lack of safety gear caused a worker's injuries.

You can learn more about the Jones Act and other maritime law issues at our personal injury website.

Source: Southeast Texas Record, "Boat worker sues over spine injury," July 22, 2014

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