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Commercial Fishing and Shipping Injuries in Westport, Washington

Westport, Washington is home to the largest marina on the outer coast of the Pacific Northwest, and the commercial fishing and shipping industries are a significant part of the city’s heritage and culture. Westport is a major landing port for Chinook salmon, Dungeness crab, and pink shrimp. According to a report published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in 2017, the Westport Marina ranked 11th in the United States for seafood landings with approximately 150 million pounds of seafood landed. More than 250 fishing vessels and hundreds of commercial fishermen utilize the Westport Marina each year.

Working as a commercial fisherman is one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. When seamen are injured at work, they are protected under the law and should reach out to a maritime attorney to understand their rights. There are three main causes of action available to injured seamen: 1) maintenance and cure, 2) the unseaworthiness doctrine, and 3) the Jones Act.

In almost every case, maintenance and cure benefits are available to an injured seaman. The doctrine of maintenance and cure under general maritime law requires that your employer pays for a daily living allowance and all reasonable and necessary medical expenses if you were injured while working in the service of the vessel. The employer must pay maintenance and cure benefits until the injured seaman has reached maximum medical improvement. Injured seamen are also entitled to any lost wages during the contract, voyage, or fishing season.

An injured seaman can file an unseaworthiness claim against the vessel owner if their injury was caused by an unseaworthy condition. The law considers a vessel seaworthy if the ship, equipment, and crew are suitable for their intended use. The definition of unseaworthy is extensive. Some examples of unseaworthy conditions relating to the vessel include worn off rubber feet at the bottom of a ladder, no fall protection when work is being done at a height, or an oil slick on deck. Examples of unseaworthy conditions relating to the crew include insufficient supervision, failure to comply with OSHA or Coastguard regulations, and the absence of safety procedures.

The Jones Act is a negligence-based remedy. Under the Jones Act, the employer owes its seamen a reasonably safe place to work. The employer is responsible for any injuries caused by known unsafe conditions and the negligence of other seamen or supervisors. Some examples of negligence under the Jones Act include requiring excessive overtime, failure to maintain equipment, and violation of industry safety customs. Jones Act recovery is limited to past and future loss of income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and disability.

Kraft Davies, PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal industry law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing injured Westport seamen against vessel owners, maritime employers, and maritime insurance companies. If you were injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident and have questions about your right to recovery, contact the attorneys at Kraft Davies today at 206-624-8844 or through this website.