Ships can be tight quarters, and there is no room for people who have violent or aggressive temperaments. In some cases, a crew member may become the victim of an altercation and become seriously injured. In cases where the aggressor was found to have a nature prone to violence, the employer may be responsible for the injuries a seaman suffers under the Jones Act.
If you were hurt in an assault by another crew member while serving as a seaman aboard a vessel, the vessel owner may be liable for compensating you for your injuries. A skilled Washington, California, Alaska, and Oregon maritime assault injury lawyer from Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski can represent you and seek the damages you deserve. Call us today at 1 (800) 262-8529 to schedule a consultation.
We represent clients in courts throughout the Pacific Northwest, including in Oregon, California, Washington, and Alaska.
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also called the "Jones Act," gives seamen the right to sue employers if they are injured at sea due to negligence.
It is the owner of the vessel's responsibility to ensure the boat is "seaworthy" — that it is fit for the purpose for which it is intended. That not only means that it is physically well-made and equipped, but also that the crew is both sufficient in number and qualified to be on the ship.
In the case Boudoin v. Lykes Brothers Steamship Co., Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that crew members may be unqualified if they meet characteristics that make them dangerous. These characteristics include:
Having such a person on board, who is deemed "defective," may make the ship unseaworthy. When a crew member is hurt due to a condition that makes the vessel unseaworthy, the vessel owner is liable to that person for damages. If defective condition happens to be that a crew member is violent and/or drunk and is prone to such a state, the vessel owner may be deemed liable to the victim for an assault perpetrated by that crew member.
It is not always necessary to prove previous instances of violence by the assaulting crew member. In Pashby v. Universal Dredging Corp., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes all states on the Pacific Coast, found that a person could be defective if he or she used a dangerous weapon in an assault.
The extent of a person's injuries usually depends on how violent the assault was. After an assault, the victim may have:
It's important to remember that it does not matter how badly the assaulting crew member intended to hurt you, only how badly he or she actually hurt you due to their actions.
For instance, if he or she pushes you and you fall off a causeway, into the water or hit your neck on a metal pipe, you may suffer far worse injuries than a mere push would normally cause. The vessel owner would still liable for the full extent of your damages.
If you are a crew member who was the victim of an assault by another crew member, an experienced maritime injury lawyer can help you recover from the owner of the vessel you worked aboard when the assault occurred. At Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, we are proud to represent clients hurt in assaults in the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska and across the North Pacific Ocean. Call us today at 1 (800) 262-8529 to set a free consultation.
This article was last updated on Monday, July 30, 2018.