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Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in the Gulf of Alaska

The Gulf of Alaska is an arm of the Pacific Ocean bordered on the north by the southeastern coastline of Alaska. It reaches from the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island in the west to Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage on the east. The coast is indented with the Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound.

The commercial fishing and commercial shipping industries are very important to the Gulf of Alaska. Groundfish, salmon, and herring, Pacific halibut, crab, and shrimp are commercially fished in the Gulf of Alaska by trawlers, seiners, longliners, gillnetters, crabbers, and drifters. Major commercial shipping and fishing ports include Anchorage, Juneau, Seward, and Valdez.

The commercial fishing and shipping industries are some of the most dangerous industries in the United States. Vessel disasters, falls overboard, and accidents on board can all lead to injury or even death. The law provides multiple modes of recovery for seamen injured in commercial fishing or shipping accidents, including maintenance and cure, the doctrine of seaworthiness, and Jones Act negligence.

In almost all cases, if you were injured while working on a vessel, you are eligible to receive maintenance and cure under general maritime law. Maintenance is a daily stipend that covers living expenses (rent, utilities, and food), and cure is compensation for all reasonable and necessary medical costs relating to the injury. Unearned wages that the seaman would have received if he had not gotten injured may also be available. An employer must pay maintenance and cure until a doctor determines that no further treatment will help the injured seaman recover. An employer must pay maintenance and cure no matter who was at fault for the injury.

The doctrine of unseaworthiness is a separate avenue of recovery under general maritime law. Unseaworthy means that the vessel, equipment used in connection with the vessel, or crew is not reasonably fit for its intended purpose. A vessel does not need to be inoperable for it to be unseaworthy; any unsafe condition can contribute to unseaworthiness. If you are injured by an unseaworthy vessel, the owner is liable, whether or not they were aware of the unseaworthy condition.

Under the Jones Act, a seaman can recover from his employer if his injury was the result of the employer’s negligence. An employer is negligent if they do not use reasonable care to provide a safe place to work or act as a normally prudent person would. Additionally, an employer is responsible for the negligence of employees and supervisors. If the employer’s negligence played any part in the injury, no matter how small, the employer could be liable.

If you or a loved one have been injured while working on a vessel in the Gulf of Alaska, you should immediately reach out to an attorney. Maritime law is complex, and you deserve an experienced maritime attorney by your side who will ensure the best outcome possible. The attorneys at Kraft Davies have been successfully helping injured maritime workers for many years. Contact us today at 206.624.8844 or through this website for a free consultation.