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Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in Naknek, Alaska

Naknek, Alaska is located on the north bank of the Naknek River on the northern end of Bristol Bay in Southwest Alaska. The city is the seat of Bristol Bay Borough.

Naknek’s economy is primarily based on commercial fishing and processing, and it a major center for Alaska fishery. With a year-round population of approximately 500 residents, Naknek’s population swells to thousands each summer as seasonal fishing workers come to the city. The first salmon cannery opened on the Naknek River in 1890, and by 1900, around twelve canneries were operating in Bristol Bay. Today, Trident Seafoods, North Pacific Processors, Alaska General Seafoods, Ocean Beauty, Silver Bay Seafoods, and Nakeen Homepack operate fish processing facilities in Naknek. These facilities process millions of pounds of salmon each summer.

Working as a commercial fisherman in Naknek, Alaska is a dangerous job as seamen have to battle strong winds, icy waters, and long hours. When seamen are injured on the job, they may be entitled to benefits under general maritime law and the Jones Act.

Under general maritime law, seamen can bring claims of maintenance and cure, unearned wages, and unseaworthiness. Maintenance and cure benefits are available to seamen who are injured in the course and scope of their employment. It does not matter who caused the injury, only that it occurred while the employee was working.

“Maintenance” refers to a daily living expense while the employee is recovering from his injury. This benefit takes into account food, room, and board. The seamen should receive the maintenance benefit until he is recovered and able to return to work or until a medical professional determines that no further medical treatment will improve his injuries.

“Cure” refers to the reasonable cost of medical treatment until a doctor determines that no additional treatment will have a curative effect. After it is determined that no additional treatment will help the injured seaman recover, any treatment that only seeks to make a seamen’s injuries less painful will not be covered.

An injured seaman can bring an unseaworthiness claim if an employer violates his duty to provide a seaworthy vessel. A vessel owner owes a duty to all crew members to provide a vessel or anything that is used in connection with the vessel (equipment and crew) in proper and working order. This includes the duty to provide an adequate crew. A vessel owner is liable for any injuries caused by an unseaworthy condition whether or not they were aware that the condition existed or were negligent. Damages available on an unseaworthiness claim include among others loss of income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and compensation for disability.

The Jones Act is a federal statute that provides a cause of action for negligence against an employer by a seaman injured while he is working. A seaman can recover if the employer was negligent, his employees or agents were negligent, or a defect in the employer’s equipment caused the injury. Under 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.

Maritime law is complex, and it is important that you find an experienced maritime attorney to represent you and help get you the damages and compensation that you deserve. The attorneys at Kraft Davies are experienced in representing injured Alaskan seamen against vessel owners, maritime employers, and maritime insurance companies. Contact the attorneys at Kraft Davies today at 206.624.8844 or through our website.