Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in St. Paul, Alaska
St. Paul, Alaska is located 770 miles southwest of Anchorage on the largest of the Pribilof Islands in the middle of the Bering Sea. For centuries, the Aleuts have fished halibut from small boats in the Bering Sea off the coast of St. Paul. In 1983, the town built a boat harbor, developed a local fleet, and opened the first halibut processing plant.
Today, commercial fishing of crab and halibut is one of the mainstays of St. Paul’s economy, and the commercial fishing industry is the town’s largest employer. Major seafood processing companies have sites in St. Paul. Among these is Trident Seafoods, which processes snow crab, king, bairdi crab, and halibut. During peak season, the Trident plant employs as many as 400 workers.
Long winter nights, harsh winds, and drifting sea ice make commercial fishing in St. Paul extremely dangerous. Seamen injured in commercial fishing or shipping accidents may be entitled to compensation and damages under the law. The three principal avenues of recovery are maintenance and cure, the unseaworthiness doctrine, and Jones Act negligence. These laws are very complex, and injured seamen should immediately reach out to an experienced maritime attorney.
Under general maritime law, an injured seaman is entitled to maintenance and cure benefits if they were injured while in the scope of their employment. Maintenance is a daily living stipend and cure is payment for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses. It does not matter who caused the injury. The employer must pay maintenance and cure to an injured seaman whether or not they were at fault. The employer must pay these benefits until the seaman reaches maximum medical improvement. If the court finds that an employer has wrongly denied maintenance and cure benefits, the seaman may be able to recover punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and compensatory damages.
An injured seaman may also be able to recover under the unseaworthiness doctrine. The unseaworthiness doctrine states that the vessel and its operator owe seamen an absolute duty to provide a vessel that is suitable for its intended use. The vessel and anything that is used in connection with the vessel must be in proper and safe working order. A vessel owner is liable for any injuries that are caused by unseaworthy conditions.
Under the Jones Act, an employer has a duty to provide seamen with a reasonably safe place to work and is also responsible for the negligence of employees or supervisors. Some examples of negligent acts under the Jones Act include improperly maintained equipment, failure to provide the proper equipment, failure to properly train the crew, negligent hiring, and failure to warn of a known hazard. If the negligent act played any part in the injury, no matter how small, the employer may be liable under the Jones Act.
If you were injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident in St. Paul, you should find an experienced maritime attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Kraft Davies are qualified attorneys with the expertise to obtain the best outcome for you. Contact us today at 206.624.8844 or through this website for a free consultation.