Unseaworthiness

In order for a cause of action to be brought under the doctrine of unseaworthiness, the injured party must show the proximate cause of the injury was by a defective condition of the ship or her equipment. This extends to such things as the hull, cargo handling equipment, hand tools, ropes and tackle, provisions, the method of cargo storage, the lack of certain types of equipment, and the competency and size of the crew.

The duty for seaworthiness is absolute and independent of negligence.

The test for an unseaworthy condition is whether the vessel or its equipment is reasonably fit for their intended use. The shipowner is not required to prove the vessel or her equipment were in perfect condition, nor is he required to provide an “accident-free” ship with the latest and best equipment, merely, that it be reasonably suited for its intended use.

The warranty of seaworthiness is owed to those claiming seaman status and not to others such as passengers or visitors aboard the vessel.

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