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How misidentifying unsafe ship parts can turn deadly for crew

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2016 | Wrongful Death

As you may or may not know, ship owners are required by law to maintain their vessels to ensure the safety of their crew. This includes everything from ensuring safe working conditions to repairing any unsafe equipment or mechanical parts on the ship. Failing to do so, as you can imagine, can have dire consequences for a ship owner and his or her crew.

As one case illustrates, misidentifying ship parts as safe when they are clearly not safe can have deadly consequences. The case we are referring to is that of the ship known as the El Faro, which sank during a hurricane in October 2015. All 33 crewmembers went down with the ship, leading to an investigation that uncovered a serious mistake.

According to a report in the Claims Journal, engineers cleared the ship for its voyage even though some of the ships parts “had deteriorated severely.” Even though engineers thought the ship was seaworthy, its eventual sinking during the storm proved that it was not, which was a costly mistake.

A case like this illustrates the importance of not only keeping a ship in working condition but not ignoring damaged ship parts, no matter how innocuous they may seem. Many cargo ships have very complex systems that require all parts to be in working order in order to prevent a disaster from occurring. In many cases, if one system or part fails, lives can be lost if a ship capsizes or sinks due to an inability to control the ship properly.

Though a wrongful death claim against a negligent ship owner will not bring back a loved one who has died because a vessel sank, the civil action might at least bring the victim’s family a sense of justice and closure in the end.