Failing to maintain and manage a seagoing vessel properly can lead to serious legal issues for ship owners and may lead to significant financial liability if a crew member is injured as a result of these failures. Federal maritime laws stipulate that owners must maintain their vessels in seaworthy condition to protect the safety of crew members and prevent accidents and injuries on the job. These regulations are often applied in conjunction with violations of the U.S. Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly referred to as the Jones Act, which provided a measure of protection for the rights of crewmen on seagoing vessels. What Makes a Ship Unseaworthy? A number of different factors can render a ship unseaworthy from a legal standpoint. These may include physical disrepair, improper working requirements, lack of safety equipment, defective or unsafe equipment, failure to install proper safeguards on dangerous equipment and a lack of proper tools for a variety of jobs on the ship. Lack of training, excessive work hours, failure to provide regular breaks and off-duty time and failure to provide adequate supervision for crew members can also be grounds for deeming a vessel unseaworthy. Any breach of safety statutes on the part of the owner can render the ship automatically unseaworthy from a legal perspective as well. These violations may include insufficient staffing, failure to maintain sufficient safety equipment and other U.S. Coast Guard regulations. Preventing Unsafe Conditions at Sea Before the adoption of the Jones Act, sailors had no legal avenue to obtain redress against owners who failed to maintain their ship properly or who allowed unsafe conditions to persist on their seafaring vessels. Maritime law prior to that point had made no provisions to protect sailors against dangerous conditions and consequent injuries to crewmen who worked on board these ships. The Jones Act extended the same protections to sailors that had already been secured for railroad workers through the Federal Employers Liability Act. Under the Jones Act, sailors could seek compensation from ship owners for injuries or death at sea caused by unsafe working conditions and failure to maintain the seaworthiness of their vessels. Ship owners have consistently lobbied against the Jones Act since its adoption, citing higher costs of maintenance that reduce their ability to compete in the internatihttp://burwellnebout.com/jones-act-merchant-maritime-law/" target="_blank">Jones Act maritime legislation continues to remain in force to protect the rights of sailors. Protecting the Rights of Sailors A Jones Act maritime lawyer specializes in obtaining compensation for sailors and their families for injuries or death at sea caused by unseaworthy vessels and hazardous conditions on board. In general, crew members are entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and the costs of ongoing rehabilitation and care for injuries sustained due to unseaworthy conditions at sea. If the injury is severe enough to prevent the crew member from returning to his or her duties, any retraining or educational cost incurred by the sailor in the course of rehabilitation may be borne by the ship owner as well. The Jones Act also covers certain ships that primarily transport goods along the U.S. coastline or down navigable rivers; a barge injury lawyer offers specialty representation for crew members injured on these large-scale cargo vessels. Jones Act allegations are usually considered separately from questions of seaworthiness, but the cases are often combined into one court proceeding at which both issues are addressed. Sailors who have been injured can often benefit most from pursuing their claims for compensation under both the Jones Act and the unseaworthiness doctrine. Maritime law firms specialize in providing the most knowledgeable and effective representation for sailors and their families. By engaging a qualified Jones Act maritime lawyer, crew members and families of sailors can ensure the maximum compensation award or settlement for serious on-the-job injuries or death at sea.