Associated With:
Super Lawyers
American Association for Justice
AV Preeminent
National lawyers
WSAJ Eagle 2023

Unsafe Cargo Stacking on Commercial Fishing Boats and the Jones Act Claim

The sea is a demanding, challenging and, sometimes, merciless workplace. Commercial fishing, in particular, is considered one of the most hazardous occupations worldwide. One major, yet overlooked hazard, is the unsafe stacking and stowage of cargo on board. It can lead to dangerous, even catastrophic, situations. When accidents occur due to such negligence, the Jones Act provides a legal recourse for injured seamen.

Unsafe Cargo Stacking: An Overlooked Threat

Fishing vessels are often loaded with heavy equipment, machinery, and payloads of fish. The responsibility for loading and stacking this cargo falls on the crew, with guidelines provided by the ship's captain or the fishing company. Unfortunately, time pressures, lack of training, or even negligence, can lead to unsafe cargo stacking. This can result in instability, impeded vessel maneuverability, increased risk of capsizing, and dangers to the crew's safety.

Poorly stacked cargo can shift unexpectedly, especially in the often harsh conditions at sea. This can cause equipment or heavy items to fall, potentially causing severe injuries or even fatalities. Moreover, an improperly balanced load can make the vessel unstable, heightening the risk of capsizing, especially in rough seas.

Jones Act: Legal Recourse for Injured Seamen

The Jones Act, officially known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal statute that provides injured seamen with a legal pathway to seek compensation from their employers. To qualify for protection under the Jones Act, an individual must spend a significant portion of their work time contributing to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission.

Under the Jones Act, employers are required to provide a reasonably safe work environment. This includes properly maintaining the vessel and equipment, adequately training employees, and ensuring safe procedures for tasks such as cargo stacking.

Jones Act Claim for Unsafe Cargo Stacking Accidents

If a seaman is injured due to unsafe cargo stacking, they may have grounds to file a Jones Act claim. To successfully make a claim, the injured party must prove that the employer's negligence contributed to their injury. This negligence could be a failure to provide appropriate training on safe cargo stacking, or a disregard for safety guidelines.

In a Jones Act claim, the plaintiff can seek compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other damages. The compensation can be substantial, particularly in cases of serious injury or wrongful death.

It's important to note that the Jones Act is a complex piece of legislation and legal advice should be sought when making a claim. An attorney with experience in maritime law and the Jones Act will understand the nuances of the legislation and be able to guide the injured seaman through the process.

Ensuring Safety on the Seas

Unsafe cargo stacking on commercial fishing boats poses serious risks to the safety of seamen. To prevent accidents and injuries, it is crucial for fishing companies to uphold their responsibilities under the Jones Act, providing safe working conditions and adequate training for their crew.

The Jones Act provides a crucial protection for seamen, ensuring they have legal recourse if they are injured due to their employer's negligence. However, the ultimate goal should always be to prevent these accidents from occurring in the first place. Safe practices, including proper cargo stacking, should be a priority for all involved in the commercial fishing industry.

Contact an Experienced Maritime Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation

Our firm offers a free consultation to anyone injured due to unsafe cargo practices on commercial fishing vessels or factory trawlers. Contact us today for a free consultation.