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Bait Chopper Injuries on Commercial Fishing Vessels

Maritime workers aboard commercial fishing vessels are exposed to various hazards, including bait chopper injuries. A bait chopper is a machine used on fishing vessels to quickly and efficiently chop frozen bait. A worker drops frozen bait into the top of the machine. The machine has a wheel with blades that spins and chops the bait before it is dropped out of the bottom of the machine.

As the bait collects, it can get jammed, forcing the operator to reach into the machine and scoop out the lodged bait. If the worker’s hand gets too close to the blade, their glove can get caught, and their hand will be sucked into the powerful spinning blades. The resulting injury can cause the traumatic amputation of the fingers or hand.

Losing a body part can have devastating consequences. The injured worker will be facing expensive medical treatment, lost wages, mental distress, and under some circumstances, may never be able to work on a ship again.

What Should You Do if You Suffered a Bait Chopper Injury?

If you have suffered a bait chopper injury, you should contact an experienced maritime attorney. You may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act. Under the law, employers and vessel owners must provide their employees with a safe work environment. Employers and vessel owners could prevent most bait chopper accidents if they took the proper safety precautions. Almost any unsafe condition on a vessel can lead to liability under the Jones Act.

For example, your attorney could argue that the bait chopper was not a safe design. Perhaps it routinely got plugged, did not have safety guards preventing workers from putting their hands and fingers into the chopping area of the machine, or did not have a limit switch that would shut down the wheel when a worker lifted the cover. The employer could also be at fault if the crew’s working conditions created an unsafe environment where an accident was inevitable. Sleep deprivation and tiredness cloud judgment and slow reaction time. Many seamen are forced to work sixteen to twenty hours per day, seven days a week.

Under the Jones Act, the burden of causation is much lower than typical personal injury claims. In a standard negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence was the main cause of the plaintiff’s injury. However, in a Jones Act case, the injured worker only needs to prove that the employer’s negligence played some role, however small, in causing the worker’s injuries. This is sometimes referred to as “featherweight” causation. Damages available under the Jones Act for bait chopper injuries may include lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

Kraft Davies, PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal injury law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing seamen injured in bait chopper accidents. We understand the fishing industry and know how to get you the compensation that you deserve. If you or a loved one were injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident, contact the attorneys at Kraft Davies today at 206-624-8844 or through this website.