Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in Aberdeen, Washington
Aberdeen, Washington is located on the southern edge of the Olympic Peninsula, where the Wishkah and Chehalis Rivers converge. Fishing is a large part of Aberdeen’s history; the city was even named after a local fishing cannery. Commercial fishing and shipping are still a significant part of the economy today. The Port of Grays Harbor, located on the waterfront in Aberdeen, is the number one landing port in Washington state. Automobiles, biodiesel, and other liquid and dry bulk products are shipped from Aberdeen.
The seamen working on the vessels are the backbone of the commercial fishing and shipping industries in Aberdeen. Working in these industries is dangerous, and seamen are regularly exposed to a high risk of injury. The law recognizes the inherent danger of working at sea and provides for multiple causes of action that an injured seaman can pursue. The primary legal claims are maintenance and cure, the unseaworthiness doctrine, and the Jones Act.
Maintenance and cure is available in almost every case where a seaman is injured while working in the service of the vessel. Under maintenance and cure, an employer must provide an injured worker a daily living allowance and all reasonable and necessary medical expenses. A seaman is entitled to receive these benefits during his or her recovery. The seaman is not required to prove that the employer was at fault in order to receive these benefits.
The unseaworthiness doctrine under general maritime law enables seamen to file a claim if they were injured as a result of an unsafe condition on the vessel. Any condition of the vessel, its equipment, or crew that is not reasonably fit for its intended use is considered unseaworthy under the law. This definition is broad and covers conditions that a worker may not be aware of. A vessel owner owes an absolute duty to provide a seaworthy vessel to its employees. This means that the vessel owner does not need to be aware of the condition to be liable.
The Jones Act allows seamen to pursue a negligence claim against their employers and the vessel owner. An employer must provide its workers with a reasonably safe work environment and use ordinary care to keep the vessel in a reasonably safe condition. Examples of negligence could be providing defective equipment, leaving oil or grease on the deck, and failing to train crew members. The employer’s negligence does not need to be the sole or primary cause of the seaman’s injury. Instead, the negligence must only play some part, no matter how small, in the injury. An employer is also responsible for the negligence of other crewmen and supervisors.
Kraft Davies, PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal industry law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing injured Aberdeen seamen against vessel owners, maritime employers, and maritime insurance companies. If you were injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident and have questions about your right to recovery, contact the attorneys at Kraft Davies today at 206-624-8844 or through this website.