Commercial Fishing Accident Lawsuit in 2024 | Best Financial Recovery Option

Crew members who suffer injury in a commercial fishing accident due to the negligence or carelessness of a shipowner or operator may be eligible for compensation for their injuries and financial losses. Filing a commercial fishing accident lawsuit will help you recover your overall damages due to a commercial fishing accident.

Commercial Fishing Accident Lawsuit

Types of commercial fishing accidents

In December 2019, research revealed that 50% of marine accidents involved commercial fishing vessels. This is not surprising since commercial fishing vessels tend to operate in rough and challenging conditions. Unfortunately, when an accident or incident occurs on a commercial fishing boat, medical attention can be hours or even days away. That’s why the U.S. Coast Guard, which oversees all US-based commercial fishing operations, recommends that all crews be trained in CPR and first aid in case of a commercial fishing accident.

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The following are some of the most common commercial fishing accidents:

Roughly a third of all injuries on commercial fishing vessels are due to catastrophic compromises of the hull. In some cases, this is due to large waves that can capsize the ship. When the hull of a fishing vessel is significantly damaged, sinking can occur quickly, putting the lives of all seamen on board in jeopardy.

Many fishing vessels are equipped with complex, below-deck factories that help get seafood ready for market. Factory setups that would be hazardous on land are even more dangerous at sea, and special safety precautions must be followed as a result. Accidents here can often result in severed limbs or crushing injuries.

By their nature, fishing vessels are compartmentalized. Small spaces may quickly become toxic, either because there is not enough oxygen or because of the hazardous materials being kept there. Accidents involving these small spaces can lead to hypoxia or brain injury. In such cases, you can sue the commercial fishing vessel to recover compensation. 

Commercial fishing uses special equipment; the nature of that equipment varies depending on the specific type of fishing activity a vessel is primarily tasked with. However, fishing equipment of any kind can lead to commercial fishing accidents.

Nearly half of all commercial fishing fatalities are due to falls overboard. A slippery deck and constantly shifting vessels coupled with long shifts and challenging work can lead to commercial fishing workers falling overboard. Once overboard, drowning and hypothermia become the two chief safety concerns. Crew members must be rescued quickly to limit injuries and save their lives.

Factors contributing to commercial fishing accidents include

Commercial fishing accidents get amplified by the following:

  • Defective or malfunctioning machinery.
  • Heavy surf conditions.
  • Inadequate training of crew members.
  • Inadequate inspections of the ship.
  • Operators sailing into hazardous areas.
  • Poor weather conditions.

Compensation for injuries in commercial fishing negligence

Unlike workers’ compensation, the commercial fisherman is also eligible to get full compensation from their employers when they file a commercial fishing accident lawsuit if they were injured on the job. Worker’s compensation is typically limited to a certain amount. However, the commercial fisherman can sue their employer for commercial fishing negligence for the full amount of lost compensation, including calculable future wages.

Under general maritime law, workers injured while on a vessel are entitled to maintenance and cure. This applies to commercial fishermen as well. Fishermen who sustained injuries while on the job are covered under maintenance and cure regardless of how the accident happened and who is at fault.

Maintenance” is defined as a daily living allowance while the commercial fisherman is unable to work. Meanwhile, “cure” is defined as coverage for any medical expenses associated with the injuries.

Commercial fishermen are also covered for unseaworthiness under general maritime law. Unseaworthiness refers to a vessel that is inoperable and in need of repair, rendering it unseaworthy. It’s important to note that an unseaworthy vessel can still be capable of navigation but may have a defect in equipment onboard or any type of maintenance problem that puts fishermen at risk of commercial fishing accidents and injuries. 

If an accident does occur, the commercial fishermen may be entitled to damages. For example, if an injury happens because of a faulty conveyor belt or a broken fishing net and the owner had reasonable warning and enough time to repair it, the boat is considered unseaworthy. Thus, the employer may be liable for the injuries sustained by the crew member.

With the sheer amount of commercial fishermen in Alaska, the state provides a “Fishermen’s Fund” for qualified injured fishermen. The fund provides compensation for all medical injuries suffered while the worker was injured on or offshore. Alaska is the only state that offers a separate fund for commercial fishermen, and strict requirements must be met to qualify.

Can a commercial fishing accident be prevented?

While factors like weather and surf conditions cannot always be predicted, there are some things that crews can do to prevent the likelihood of a commercial fishing accident. These preventative measures include:

  • All fishermen should take marine safety classes every few years.
  • Fishermen should wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when possible.
  • Ensure that PFDs are available for all persons on board.
  • Hire skilled and experienced commercial fishing accidents lawyers to study the legal side of your policies.
  • Regularly review weather and tide forecasts before launching.
  • Ensure routine inspections and maintenance.
  • Install man-overboard alarms on board the fishing boats.
  • Conduct monthly drills for crew members.

Commercial fishing boat owners must ensure that fishing boats are safe, seaworthy, and operating properly. Operators also have a duty to promote a safe environment on board the ship, check weather conditions, and ensure that the ship is traveling in a safe area. When owners and/or operators fail to maintain these duties, they put the lives of crew members at risk. 

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation that left you injured, disabled, and in pain, talk to top commercial fishing accident lawyers right away. They know the advanced strategies to help you get a fair settlement for a commercial fishing accident.

Choose Ethen Ostroff Law for quality legal representation

Commercial fishing accident claims are generally complicated! Therefore, to help establish and prove your commercial fishing accident lawsuit, the injured party needs the support and assistance of a maritime lawyer. 

Ethen Ostroff Law is committed to finding you suitable legal representation for your case. We will refer you to those who will work closely with you to prove all elements of negligence and gather sufficient evidence for settlement negotiations. A commercial fishing accident attorney in Philadelphia with extensive  investigation and litigation experience both nationally and internationally is what you need to win your case.

Call 610-510-8883 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.

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