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Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in Seattle, Washington

For more than 100 years, the commercial fishing industry has been a significant part of Seattle’s economy, and it continues to play a critical role today. The commercial fishing vessels moored at the Port of Seattle employed 5,100 fishermen in 2017.

From October through May, the Port of Seattle serves as the home port for the North Pacific Fishing Fleet and factory trawlers. Three hundred commercial fishing vessels moored at the Port of Seattle in 2017; 226 of those vessels actively fished in Alaskan waters and harvested a total of 1.3 metric tons of seafood. A smaller number of commercial fishing vessels that moored in Seattle operated in Puget Sound and off the West Coast of the Olympic Peninsula. In 2017, the Port of Seattle brought in gross earnings of more than $455 million from Alaskan fisheries, and an additional $26.6 million in total earnings were brought in from the waters outside of Alaska.

Seamen working on commercial fishing and shipping vessels put their bodies at risk every day. It is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. If you were injured on a commercial fishing or shipping vessel, you must reach out to an attorney to understand your legal rights. There are three primary types of recovery under the law: 1) maintenance and cure, 2) the unseaworthiness doctrine, and 3) the Jones Act.

Maintenance and cure benefits are awarded to all seamen injured while working in the service of the vessel. Maintenance is a living allowance meant to cover expenses such as room, board, and food. Cure is payment for all reasonable medical expenses. Whether the employer was a fault for the injury does not factor into its obligation to pay maintenance and cure benefits.

The unseaworthiness doctrine awards damages and compensation to seamen who were injured as the result of an unseaworthy condition. To be seaworthy, the vessel, its appurtenances, and the crew must be reasonably fit for their intended use. Examples of unseaworthy conditions include defective equipment, lack of proper procedures, inadequate crew, and failure to comply with federal regulations. Unlike the Jones Act, it does not matter if the employer was aware of the unseaworthy condition.

The Jones Act is a statutory remedy that awards damages and compensation to workers that are injured as a result of their employer’s negligence. The employer must provide his employees with a reasonably safe place to work. The employer’s negligence does not need to be the sole or even primary cause of the injury. As long as the employer’s negligence played any part, the seaman may be entitled to damages. An employer is also responsible for the negligence of other employees on the vessel.

If you or a family member were injured in a commercial fishing accident, it is critical that you find a lawyer with the specific knowledge necessary to help you navigate your case. The attorneys at Kraft Davies are experienced in representing injured Seattle seamen against vessel owners, maritime employers, and maritime insurance companies. Contact the attorneys at Kraft Davies today at 206-624-8844 or through this website.