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Falls From Heights on Commercial Fishing and Shipping Vessels

Falls from heights are one of the many dangers that maritime workers face. The injuries resulting from a fall accident are often severe and can even be fatal. Common injuries include broken bones, torn ligaments, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and paralysis. These injuries often require extensive medical care and, according to OSHA, are the leading cause of workplace fatalities.

Falls from heights on commercial fishing and shipping vessels can often be avoided if employers take proper precautions. The main causes of these types of accidents include:

  • Slippery surfaces;
  • Missing grating, railings, and stanchions;
  • Tripping hazards, such as improperly stored cargo and equipment;
  • Missing warning signs;
  • Improper safety equipment, like safety shoes and safety harnesses;
  • Insufficient training; and
  • Adverse weather conditions, such as rain, ice, hail, and high winds.

If you were injured in a fall accident on a commercial fishing or shipping vessel, you should contact an experienced maritime attorney. You may be entitled to compensation under maritime law. The three principal causes of action are 1) maintenance and cure, 2) the unseaworthiness doctrine, and 3) the Jones Act. Maintenance and cure benefits are available to any seaman injured while working on a commercial fishing or shipping vessel, no matter who was at fault for the injury. Maintenance covers daily living expenses, like food and rent. Cure covers all reasonable and necessary medical costs. Employers must pay maintenance and cure benefits until the injured worker has recovered or reached a point where no further treatment will help them recover.

If your injuries were caused by the vessel’s unseaworthy conditions, you are entitled to compensation under the doctrine of unseaworthiness. Under this doctrine, the vessel owner owes seamen an absolute duty to provide a vessel, including its parts and equipment, in proper and safe working order. Because the owner’s duty is absolute, injured seamen do not need to prove that the owner was aware of the unseaworthy condition.

In addition, you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal law that gives seamen who were injured in the course of their employment the right to sue their employer for negligence damages. Employers are required to provide their employees with a reasonably safe workplace. Grease or oil on the deck, a lack of proper safety equipment, and improper crew training are all examples of employer negligence. Injured seamen only need to prove that their employer’s negligence played some role in their injury, no matter how small.

To learn more about your rights under maritime law, call an experienced attorney to discuss your case. Kraft Davies, PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal injury law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing seamen who have suffered an injury resulting from falls from heights against vessel owners, maritime employers, and maritime insurance companies. If you or a loved one were injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident, contact the attorneys at Kraft Davies today at 206-624-8844 or through this website.