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Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in Juneau, Alaska

Juneau is the capital of Alaska, and it is the second largest city in the United States by area. To give you a sense of its size, it is larger than the entire state of Delaware. There are no roads connecting Juneau to the rest of Alaska because of its extremely rugged terrain. All goods coming and going from Juneau must go by boat or plane.

Commercial fishing is a significant part of Juneau’s economy. Gillnet and troll salmon fleets are the largest fleets operating from Juneau. Because Juneau is home to the state’s government, many of the commercial fishing associations in Alaska are located in Juneau. Some of these associations include the Alaska Trollers Association, the United Fishermen of Alaska, the United Southeast Alaska Gillnetters Association, and the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association. Additionally, there are many seafood processing plants based in Juneau, including Alaska Glacier Seafoods, Inc., Alaska Seafood Company, and Jerry’s Meats & Seafood.

Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the commercial fishing industry has a fatality rate 29 times higher than the national average. NIOSH studies show that the greatest dangers to fishermen are vessel disasters, falls overboard, and machinery on deck.

With such a high risk of injury or death, it is important that fishermen understand how they can recover under the law. There are two primary modes of recovery for injured seamen: 1) general maritime law and 2) the Jones Act.

General maritime is judge-made law, as opposed to statutory law. Among other things, it provides a way for injured fisherman to recover medical expenses and a daily living stipend while they are unable to work. An employer is required to provide an injured fisherman with all reasonable medical expenses from a doctor of their choice. Once they have reached “maximum improvement,” their employer no longer has to provide medical expenses or the daily living stipend. “Maximum improvement” is a medical decision that defines when additional medical care will not make the fisherman get any better. The fishermen may recover under general maritime law, no matter who was at fault for the injury.

The Jones Act is a federal statute that was passed by Congress in 1920. Basically, the law says that a seaman’s employer must provide a safe place to work, training to its employees, and proper supervision. If the vessel owner caused the seaman’s injury or could have prevented their injury from occurring, they can file a claim under the Jones Act. Through the Jones Act, an injured seaman can recover pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, wage loss, lost earning capacity, and loss of enjoyment of life.

The practice of maritime law is different from other areas of the law. To fully recover, you should find an experienced maritime attorney who understands the complexities of the maritime laws. The attorneys at Kraft Davies have been successfully helping injured maritime workers in Juneau, Alaska for many years. Contact us today at 206-624-8844 or through this website for a free consultation.