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Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in Bellingham, Washington

Bellingham is the last major city on the coast of Washington before you reach the Canadian border. The city is located in Whatcom County, where commercial fishing and shipping are significant parts of the local economy, and seven percent of the workforce is employed in the maritime industry.

The waters of Puget Sound, Southeast Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest are all easily accessible from the Port of Bellingham. Among the vessels that fish these waters and moor in Bellingham include purse seine vessels, gillnet boats, longline vessels, crab boats, catcher trawlers, and tenders. Trident Seafoods, Bornstein Seafoods, and Home Port Seafoods all have fish processing plants in Bellingham. The Port of Bellingham also has a shipping terminal which handles cargo, including construction materials, organic grains, pulp logs, and hardwood logs.

Commercial fishing and commercial shipping are dangerous jobs, and many seamen suffer injuries while working. If you work in commercial fishing or shipping and have suffered an injury, there are three major avenues of recovery under the law: 1) maintenance and cure, 2) the doctrine of unseaworthiness, and 3) the Jones Act.

Maintenance and cure is a remedy under general maritime law that is available to seamen that are injured while working in the service of the vessel. Maintenance refers to a daily living stipend and cure refers to compensation for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses. Most seamen who suffer an injury while working will be eligible for maintenance and cure benefits. It does not matter who was at fault. Maintenance and cure is not a set amount under the law, and an experienced attorney can help you get the greatest amount of benefits possible.

The doctrine of unseaworthiness provides a remedy under general maritime law for seamen who are injured due to an unseaworthy condition. Unseaworthy means that the vessel, any appurtenances used in connection with the vessel, and the crew are reasonably fit for their intended purpose. Examples of unseaworthy conditions include old or broken equipment, unsafe pathways, untrained crew, and an inadequate number of crew members. The vessel and equipment does not need to be in the best condition for it to be considered seaworthy.

The Jones Act is a statutory remedy that provides relief for seamen injured as a result of their employer’s negligence or the negligence of other crew members. Under the Jones Act, the employer’s negligence does not need to be the primary cause of the injury; as long as the negligence played any role, the employer may be liable. The seaman must be in the course of his or her employment to recover under the Jones Act, but it does not matter whether the vessel was at sea or moored at port at the time of the injury.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident, you should immediately reach out to an attorney. The attorneys at Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal injury law and have been successfully helping injured seamen in Bellingham, Washington for many years. Contact us today at 206.624.8844 or through this website for a free consultation.