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Your Jones Act Rights When Injured by Faulty Equipment


Were you injured by a malfunctioning piece of equipment?

Anchors, berths, bunks, cables, cranes, decks, derricks, drilling fluids, EPIRBs, gunnels, forklifts, hatches, hulls, ladders, lights, pipes, power tools, personnel baskets,  pulleys, radars, radios, ratchets, rigging, ropes, taglines, transfer baskets, transoms, valves, vests, welding torches,  winches…there are endless types of machines and pieces of heavy equipment that are used aboard ships, oil rigs, and other vessels. When machines and equipment fail or are used improperly, they can cause serious injuries: anything from traumatic brain injury to amputations to electrocutions or even death.

When a piece of equipment causes an accident because it is not fit for its intended purpose, it is considered to be unseaworthy.

Common Equipment Issues at Sea

rusted gears, unseaworthiness, faulty equipment

Some of the most common reasons workers are injured in machine accidents include:

  • failure to properly anchor equipment;
  • lack of safety gear;
  • rusted, broken or otherwise damaged equipment;
  • lack of functional emergency shut-offs;
  • use of proper guard rails on deck; and
  • other workers using equipment they are not trained to operate.

Certain types of equipment have unique hazards, such as the danger of a line on a winch snapping and striking a nearby worker. Many of these hazards can be prevented with proper training, maintenance and safety precautions.

While maritime safety rules are in place for vessel owners and workers to follow, negligence of these rules often results in a serious injury. An accident caused by neglecting maritime safety rules can result in the need for a Jones Act attorney to help you file a claim of liability against your employer.

There are two main causes of equipment injury:

  • Poor equipment design
  • Negligent maintenance

When Equipment is Poorly Designed

Any type of machine should be able to operate under normal working conditions without causing injury to its operator or anyone working nearby.  When a defect in the manufacturing or design of a piece of equipment causes the machine to fail and injury results, the equipment manufacturer may be liable for the accident.  If you are injured by equipment used in maritime work, a maritime injury attorney can determine if you have a third party claim against the manufacturer.

When Inadequate Equipment Maintenance Causes An Injury

No matter how well-designed a piece of equipment is, it must be properly maintained and used correctly. A regular maintenance schedule is needed to keep equipment in good repair.  Equipment used on ships and offshore oil platforms is constantly exposed to the weather and to salt spray.  This can cause premature corrosion, so all maritime equipment should be checked for rust, worn parts and other damage at regular intervals. It is especially important to check cables and mooring lines as these can cause amputations and other serious injuries if they fail.

It is your employer’s duty to ensure that all equipment is properly maintained and in safe operating condition and that those who operate the machines are trained to use them safely.

If you are a seaman and have suffered an offshore injury as the result of equipment failure or equipment misuse, you have the right to seek compensation from your employer for your injury.  You may have a Jones Act claim for past and future medical expenses, lost income, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and disability.  A maritime injury attorney can help you pursue your claim.

To discuss your injury with a maritime law attorney and schedule a free case evaluation, contact the Louisiana Jones Act lawyers at The Young Firm.

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