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Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in Nikiski, Alaska

Nikiski, Alaska is located along the shore of the Cook Inlet, eleven miles north of Kenai in Kenai Peninsula Borough. Travelers can access the village by the Sterling Highway, and it has a population of approximately 4,500.

The economy of Nikiski is centered on the oil industry. The population grew after oil was discovered in the area in 1957 and oil companies, including Tesoro, Chevron, Phillips 66 and Unocal came to Nikiski to develop operations. The Port of Nikiski is home to several oil refineries and offshore drilling. In addition to the oil industry, Nikiski’s economy includes commercial fishing. There are no fish processing plants located in Nikiski, but landings are delivered to the nearby city of Kenai.

Commercial fishing and shipping in Nikiski, Alaska remains one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. U.S. Congress and the courts have recognized the dangers of working at sea and have provided legal protections to injured seamen. The two major avenues of recovery include general maritime law and the Jones Act.

Under general maritime law, if you are a seaman who was injured while working, you may be entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. Maintenance is a daily living stipend to be paid while you are recovering from your injuries. Employers commonly pay maintenance approximately every two weeks by check. Cure is all reasonable and necessary medical treatment due to an injury or illness suffered while working on the vessel. You have the right to choose your doctors and are under no obligation to submit to treatment by a doctor selected by your employer.

Seamen injured while in the service of the vessel are also entitled to unearned wages. Unearned wages are wages that the seaman would have received if he did not get injured. They are payable through the end of the voyage or a mutually agreed upon period of employment. This amount covers all income that the seaman would reasonably have earned, including overtime, bonuses, compensatory time, tips, accumulated shore leave, and other benefits.

Under the Jones Act, an employer must provide a seaman with a reasonably safe place to work. If an employer fails to provide a reasonably safe place to work, and you are injured as a result, they will be liable for damages. Many injured seamen have a claim under the Jones Act, but fail to recognize it. Negligence under the Jones Act is very broad and may include such acts as:

  • Failure to warn employees of a danger;
  • Failure to properly train employees;
  • Failure to make proper inspections of the vessel and equipment;
  • Violation of industry safety customs;
  • Unsafe storage of cargo; or
  • Failure to provide tools and equipment that are reasonably safe for the performance of work.

If you work in commercial fishing or shipping and have been injured on the job, you may be eligible for damages or compensation and should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Reach out to the attorneys at Kraft Davies have decades of experience helping injured Alaskan commercial fisherman pursue claims. Reach out to the attorneys at Kraft Davies today at 206.624.8844 or through our website.