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Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in Portland, Oregon

Portland is the largest city in Oregon and located on the coast at the meeting of the Columbia and Williamette Rivers. Commercial fishing and particularly commercial shipping are economic drivers for the city. The Port of Portland has four marine terminals, plus Oregon’s only deep-draft container port. Each year the Port ships over eleven million tons of cargo, including auto, breakbulk, dry bulk, and specialty cargo. More than eleven million automobiles manufactured by Ford, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota have moved through the Port of Portland since 1953, and more than four million tons of grain were shipped through the port in 2017.

The seamen that work in the commercial fishing and shipping industries have one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. and put their lives at risk every day. Because of the dangers, the law provides special protections for injured maritime workers. The three primary legal claims that an injured seaman can pursue include: 1) maintenance and cure, 2) the doctrine of unseaworthiness, and 3) the Jones Act.

Under general maritime law, employers must pay maintenance and cure to any seaman injured while working in the service of the vessel. The doctrine of maintenance and cure is long-established, having been recognized as early as 1823. Maintenance is a daily living stipend to cover room and board. Cure is all reasonable and necessary medical expenses relating to an injury that occurred while the seaman was in service in the vessel. The injured seaman is entitled to receive maintenance and cure benefits until he or she is no longer receiving curative treatment. All injuries are covered, regardless of who was at fault.

The second legal claim available to seamen under general maritime law is the doctrine of unseaworthiness. Under this doctrine, the owner of the vessel has an absolute duty to provide a seaworthy vessel. A vessel is seaworthy if the ship, its equipment, and crew are all reasonably fit for their intended purpose. There are many examples of situations that could fall under the doctrine of unseaworthiness, including an untrained crew, broken equipment, or improperly stored cargo. This duty is absolute, meaning that the vessel owner will be liable whether or not they caused or were aware of the unseaworthy condition.

The Jones Act is a statutory remedy that provides compensation to seamen who were injured as a result of their employer’s negligence. Negligence means that the employer failed to use reasonable care or provide its crew with a reasonably safe workplace. A seaman bringing a claim of negligence has a relatively low burden of proof. The injured seaman only needs to prove that the employer’s negligence played a role, however slight, in the injury.

Kraft Davies, PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal industry law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing Portland 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.