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Stair Injuries on Commercial Fishing and Shipping Vessels

Each year many seamen working on commercial fishing and shipping vessels are injured in fall accidents involving stairs. Stair accidents can result in serious injuries, including fractures, head and neck injuries, shoulder injuries, back injuries, and paralysis. Injuries are often more severe if you were carrying cargo or equipment when you fell. Serious injuries can require surgery and months of rehabilitation. In some cases, workers may be unable to return to maritime work.

Many different factors can contribute to a stair injury on a boat. Four common causes are listed below.

  • Slippery Stairs. Stairs on vessels may be exposed to water, oil, and harsh weather conditions. Employers must keep stairs as dry and clean as possible. Stairs should have non-skid paints and coatings, and workers should wear appropriate shoes with non-slip soles.
  • Stairs That Are Not Properly Designed. Stairs must be properly designed and follow industry standards. For example, stairs on vessels are required to be a specific width and constructed with appropriate materials.
  • Stairs With Unequal Rise and Run. Each step in the stair must have a uniform rise (height) and run (length) to prevent accidents. A shallower angle is safer than a steep angle.
  • Stairs With No Handrails. It is essential for stairs to have graspable, reachable handrails, especially on moving vessels. Rough waters can make the ship move unexpectedly.

If you suffered a stair injury on a commercial fishing or shipping vessel, you should reach out to an experienced maritime attorney who can inform you of your legal rights and fight for the financial compensation that you deserve. Any seaman who is injured while working is entitled to maintenance and cure benefits until they are recovered. Maintenance covers daily living expenses, and cure covers all reasonable and necessary medical expenses. Your employer is required to pay maintenance and cure benefits, regardless of who was at fault for your injury.

You may be entitled to additional damages under the Jones Act if your injury was caused by your employer’s negligence. Under the Jones Act, your employer can be held liable if their negligence contributed in any way, no matter how small, to your injury. Some examples of negligence include oil on stairs and stairs that do not comply with industry standards. Your attorney will work with you to investigate the accident and identify all parties responsible for your injury. If you were injured in a stair accident, you should try to take photos and measurements of the defective stairs as soon as possible. This evidence can end up being critical in your Jones Act case.

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 a stair injury 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.