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Hand Injuries on Commercial Fishing and Shipping Vessels

Working on commercial fishing and shipping vessels is one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States, and injuries to the hands are among the most common claims. Hand injuries can occur both from repetitive use and devastating accidents. Some of the most common causes of hand injuries on vessel include:

  • crushing accidents from loose cargo, overloaded nets and pots, and improperly secured hatches;
  • getting caught in netting rigging or cables; and
  • getting caught in equipment, such as conveyor belts.

Type of hand injuries that crew members suffer vary widely depending on the circumstances of the accident. Some examples of hand injuries that occur on commercial fishing and shipping vessels include:

  • Broken bones,
  • Severed tendons,
  • Severe laceration,
  • Crushed fingers or hands,
  • Triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC),
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome,
  • Complex regional pain syndrome,
  • Neuropathic pain,
  • Frostbite,
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome, and
  • Finger and hand amputation.

Your medical treatment will depend on the type of hand injury you sustained. For example, amputations require expensive prosthetics and physical therapy. Unfortunately, some crew members who suffer hand injuries will have a permanent impairment that will affect their ability to return to work. It can be a life-altering injury, and you may be entitled to compensation under maritime law.

Seamen aboard fishing and shipping vessels that suffer hand injuries are entitled to maintenance and cure, which covers daily living and medical expenses. Your employer must pay maintenance and cure benefits, regardless of whether or not they were at fault for your injury. An employer is only obligated to pay benefits until the seaman has reached a point where no additional treatment will help him recover.

In addition to maintenance and cure, you may be entitled to additional compensation under the doctrine of unseaworthiness and the Jones Act. The doctrine of unseaworthiness requires ship owners to provide their employees with a seaworthy vessel. A vessel is seaworthy if all parts of the ship and its equipment, including the crew, are reasonably fit for their intended use. The vessel owner is strictly liable for all injuries caused by unseaworthy conditions.

The Jones Act is a negligence-based remedy. To recover damages under the Jones Act, the injured seaman must prove that their employer was negligent, and the negligence was a cause, however small, in the seaman’s hand injury. Some examples of negligence include:

  • Lack of proper guards or railing on equipment,
  • Lack of appropriate safety equipment,
  • Lack of established safety procedures for operating equipment, and
  • Failure to properly train crew members regarding the equipment and line handling.

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 hand injuries 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.