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Commercial Fishing Injuries

commercial fishingThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have recognized commercial fishing as one of the most hazardous occupations in the country. The fatality rate puts the dangers of the industry into perspective: commercial fishing employees are 29 times more likely to die from work-related injuries than the national average. Fortunately, laws do protect the rights of injured fishermen to sue for their injuries.

Serious commercial fishing injuries often leave long-term impacts on victims and their families, but the commercial fisherman injury lawyers at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are here to help. We put our extensive maritime and admiralty law experience and dedication to client needs to work to secure maximum compensation for those who suffer serious fishing injuries.

Legal protection for commercial fishermen

Admiralty law operates on a complex system of state and federal statutes and common law. Some of the protections that apply to commercial fishermen include:

  • Common law: a long-time common law duty requires ship owners to guarantee that the vessel is seaworthy. A ship is not “seaworthy” if it is not fit for the reasonably anticipated perils found on the sea and owners are strictly liable for injuries if the ship is not seaworthy. Injured workers are entitled to “maintenance and cure”, which provides medical and financial compensation through the end of the voyage and until the worker has recovered.
  • Jones Act: this federal law permits seamen to bring personal injury claims that function similar to traditional civil lawsuits but under admiralty rules. Unlike common law claims arising out of seaworthiness, which imposes strict liability, an employer must be at fault for a sea worker to recover under the Jones Act. If the worker was also partly at fault, the award can be reduced proportionally.

How to choose a commercial fisherman injury attorney

There are some similarities between typical worker’s comp claims or personal injury lawsuits and commercial fishing lawsuits, but the admiralty laws require special procedures. It is important to work with a lawyer who has experience with these specific types of claims because they require distinct timeliness and pleading requirements. A seasoned maritime lawyer will also understand how to obtain the necessary evidence to support the claim.

Types of commercial fishing injuries

The CDC has identified some of the leading causes of fishing injuries as:

  • Vessel disasters – Sunken vessels lead to half of all commercial fishing deaths, highlighting the importance of ship safety and proper safety equipment.
  • Deck injuries – Wet decks and sloping surfaces contribute to deck injuries, which make up 12% of the fishing fatalities and a significant number of the non-fatal hospitalizations. Other deck hazards such as high tension cables cause injuries including amputations and death.
  • Falls overboard – The second leading cause of death on fishing vessels is falls overboard. Most fishermen who suffer fatalities are not wearing personal flotation devices, leading to cold incapacitation.
  • Other injuries – Diving injuries and on-shore injuries make up 8% of the fatalities. These injuries happen regularly and can be prevented by following safety procedures.

What kind of compensation can a commercial fishing boat injury lawyer help obtain?

The boat owner and/or operator may be liable for a worker’s injuries. The circumstances of the injury will determine the type of compensation available.

In the case of a vessel that was unseaworthy, the injured worker may obtain “maintenance and cure” until recovered, without the need to prove anyone was negligent. In a Jones Act claim, the worker will need to show that the employer was negligent and the compensation may be affected by any negligence on the part of the worker.

Compensation is intended to make the injured worker whole. It can include:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills (past and future)
  • Physical and mental pain and suffering
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Impairment
  • Physical disfigurement

A skilled Jones Act attorney is needed in order to demonstrate these types of losses within the specialized procedures of a admiralty proceeding. The lawyer at EKJ work to protect the hard-working fishermen of New York and New Jersey’s fishing ports, helping them receive the compensation due after a serious accident.

Put your trust in a seasoned commercial fishing injury lawyer on Long Island

If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial fishing accident, call a Long Island maritime lawyer at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye. Our knowledgeable NY admiralty lawyers are here to guide you through the claims process and fight for full compensation. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.

Additional commercial fishing injury resources:

  1. CDC, Commercial Fishing Safety, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/fishing/
  2. Environmental Defense Fund, In-Depth Reporting on the Dangers of Commercial Fishing, http://blogs.edf.org/edfish/2012/08/27/in-depth-reporting-on-the-dangers-of-commercial-fishing/
  3. OSHA, Commercial Fishing Fall Protection Safety Fact Sheet, https://www.osha.gov/Publications/fallprotectionsafety-commercialfishing-factsheet.pdf