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Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan is located in Southeast Alaska on the southernmost island of Revillagigedo, and it is Alaska’s fifth-largest city. Ketchikan is the first port of entry into Alaska, and fishing is a significant part of the city’s culture and economy. Before settlers arrived from Oregon, Ketchikan was a summer fish camp for Tlingit natives, as the area is a breeding ground for all species of Pacific salmon.

The first cannery opened in Ketchikan in 1886, and by the 1930s, the city had nicknamed itself the “Salmon Capital of the World.” In 2013, Ketchikan was the 12th largest fishing port in the world with over 144 millions of pounds of fish coming in each year. Over thirty percent of the city’s population is involved either in catching or processing fish. Trident Seafoods has a plant located in Ketchikan dedicated entirely to processing Pacific salmon.

Commercial fishing in Ketchikan is hard, physical work and can be incredibly dangerous. The courts and U.S. Congress have acknowledged that there is a high risk of injury and have created avenues of recovery under general maritime law and the Jones Act. There are three principal claims: maintenance and cure, the unseaworthiness doctrine, and the Jones Act.

Maintenance and cure benefits are available to seamen injured while working without regard to whether the employer is at fault. Maintenance is a daily stipend to cover room and board while the seaman is recovering from his injuries. Cure is compensation for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses until no more curative treatment is available. Maintenance and cure generally do not reduce recovery under other theories of liability, like the unseaworthiness doctrine or the Jones Act.

Seamen can recover under the unseaworthiness doctrine if their injury was due to an unseaworthy condition. Common examples of unseaworthy conditions include grease or oil on deck, worn-out equipment or fixtures, improperly designed equipment, failure to comply with OSHA or Coast Guard regulations, working excessive hours, or insufficient supervision. Damages available under the unseaworthiness doctrine include loss of income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, compensation for a disability, and other damages possible under general maritime law.

The Jones Act allows seamen injured in the course and scope of their employment to pursue a claim of negligence against their employers. Employers are required to exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries. If an employer fails to use reasonable care, and this failure results in injury, the employer is liable under the Jones Act. The employer’s negligence does not need to be the sole or primary cause of the injury. As long as the employer’s negligence played any role, the claim will succeed. All crew members can pursue a claim under the Jones Act; it does not matter their position or rank.

If you were injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident in Ketchikan, you should find an experienced maritime attorney as quickly as possible. The attorneys at Kraft Davies are qualified attorneys with the expertise to get the best outcome for you. Contact us today at 206.624.8844 or through this website for a free consultation.