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Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in Seldovia, Alaska

Seldovia, Alaska is located along the Kachemak Bay southwest of Homer, and it is a part of the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The town is the northernmost ice-free harbor in Alaska and the entire United States. There is no road system connecting Seldovia to other Alaskan communities; it can only be reached by plane or boat.

Over Seldovia’s history, commercial fishing of herring, crab, and salmon has been a centerpiece of its economy. At one time, the community was home to four canneries and over 2,000 year-round residents. That changed after a massive earthquake on March 27, 1964 which destroyed homes and business. Today, Seldovia has a year-round population of less than 300. In 2016, Seldovia Wild Seafood, Inc. was established, and it moved its fish processing plant from Anchorage to Seldovia in 2017.

Working in the commercial fishing and shipping industries puts you at risk for injury. It is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States with a fatality rate 29 times the national average. U.S. Congress and the courts acknowledged that dangers associated with working on commercial fishing vessels, tugs, and commercial ships, and they have given seamen protections under general maritime law and the Jones Act.

Under general maritime law, a seaman injured while working may be entitled to maintenance and cure and unearned wages. Maintenance is a daily living stipend, and cure is payment of reasonable and necessary medical expenses for the injured seaman. Maintenance and cure benefits last until “maximum cure.” Maximum cure basically means that you have healed from your injury as much as possible and not further treatment will have curative effects. Unearned wages are the wages that the injured seaman would have received if he had not been injured. An injured seaman is entitled to these damages without regard to the cause of the injury.

Additionally, a seaman may be entitled to compensation and damages under the unseaworthiness doctrine. The vessel owner has a duty to provide a seaworthy vessel under the unseaworthiness doctrine. If the employer fails to provide a seaworthy vessel and a seaman is injured, the employer will be liable for additional damages. If the vessel is unseaworthy, the owner is liable whether or not they were aware of the dangerous condition or played any role in causing the dangerous condition.

In combination with the above claims, if your employer’s negligence contributed to a seaman’s injury, he may have a claim under the Jones Act. Negligence under the Jones Act includes such things as failure to properly train the crew, failure to ensure the deck is free of dangerous obstacles, failure to ensure the equipment is in proper and working condition, and failure to follow safety regulations and customs.

If you were injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident, you should find an experienced maritime attorney. The attorneys at Kraft Davies have been successfully representing injured maritime workers in Seldovia, Alaska for many years. Contact us today at 206.624.8844 or through this website for a free consultation.