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Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in Newport, Oregon

Newport is located on the coast of central Oregon on Yaquina Bay. It is home to one of the West Coast’s largest and most productive fishing fleets. In 2017, 240 commercial fishing vessels landed 112 million pounds of seafood valued at $53 million at the Port of Newport. Fish processing plants Pacific Seafood, Winter Hawk Seafood, and Sea Star Enterprise all have locations in Newport, Oregon. In addition to commercial fishing facilities, the Port of Newport has a deep-draft international terminal for commercial shipping, which is primarily used to import and export forest products.

Despite substantial physical risks, Newport seamen go to work every day on commercial fishing and shipping vessels. Seamen who are injured at work are not able to recover under traditional worker compensation. Instead, there are three primary legal claims unique to maritime workers under which injured seamen can recover damages and compensation. These include: 1) maintenance and cure, 2) the unseaworthiness doctrine, and 3) the Jones Act.

All employers are responsible for paying maintenance and cure to any seaman injured while working in the service of the vessel. The employer is required to pay these benefits without regard to who or what caused the injury. Maintenance covers daily living expenses, like food and lodging. Cure covers all reasonable and necessary medical expenses until a doctor determines no further treatment will help you improve. Despite their legal obligation, some employers will refuse to pay maintenance and cure or offer you less than you deserve. If it is discovered that your employer intentionally failed to pay owed maintenance and cure benefits, you may additionally be entitled to attorney’s fees and punitive damages.

The doctrine of unseaworthiness requires that vessel owners provide their seaman with a vessel (including its equipment and crew) reasonably fit for its intended use. This duty is absolute, meaning that the shipowner is responsible for any injury caused by an unseaworthy condition, whether or not they were at fault. A vessel that is reasonably fit for its intended use does not mean that it is accident-free. Common examples of unseaworthy conditions include lack of non-skid on deck, worn-out equipment or fixtures, an understaffed crew, or the absence of safety procedures.

In addition to the doctrine of unseaworthiness, an injured seaman can sue their employer for negligence under the Jones Act. An employer acts negligently if they failed to provide a reasonably safe workplace. Unlike the doctrine of unseaworthiness, the employer must have caused or known of the danger to be liable. All crewmen are protected under the Jones Act, regardless of position or rank. The seaman must have been acting within the scope of their employment to recover under the Jones Act.

Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal injury law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing Newport seaman against vessel owners, maritime employers, and maritime insurance companies. If you or a loved one were injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident, contact the attorneys at Kraft Davies today at 206-624-8844 or through this website.