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Commercial Fishing Accidents

Commercial fishing is a dangerous occupation. There are numerous incidents that can occur, including slips and falls, machinery failures, fires, and other catastrophic incidents that could result in serious injuries. Maritime laws provide fishermen with legal protection through several acts in the event that an accident leads to serious injury or wrongful death.

Fishing boat accidents, of operations large and small, have the potential to cause serious life-long injuries. Commercial fishing accidents can lead to burns, fractures, amputations, crushing injuries, and other disastrous consequences.

It is imperative that you act quickly if you or a loved one has been hurt as a result of one of these types of accidents. Securing maximum compensation in these cases requires a lawyer who specializes in maritime law.

Willie D. Powell III understands the emotional, financial, and physical damages caused by an unexpected accident. Contact Willie D. Powell III immediately if you or a loved one has been hurt or wrongfully died as a result of one of these catastrophic incidents. Willie D. Powell III works hard to get his clients the compensation that they deserve, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more..

Common Types of Commercial Fishing Accidents

Common Types of Commercial Fishing Accidents

Any individual who works on a commercial fishing vessel is protected under maritime law and the Jones Act. These protections protect all workers on fishing boats and are applicable to deckhands, mechanics, cooks, etc.

Injury-causing accidents can occur on commercial fishing vessels of any size, from small 2-man operations to large commercial lobster boats.

Commercial Fishing Accidents Can Occur On:

  • Clam and Scallop Boats
  • Gillnetters
  • Longliners
  • Processing Vessels
  • Shrimpers
  • Snapper and Grouper Boats
  • Trollers

Commercial fishermen are at risk of numerous accident occurrences due to the prevalence of heavy machinery and high-stress jobs on the open water. The operators of these vessels and employers are responsible for creating the safest possible work environment to combat these ongoing threats.

Examples of Commercial Fishing Accidents:

  • Slips and Falls
  • Falls from Heights
  • Line Handling Injuries
  • Machinery Failure
  • Overboard Accidents

Accidents on these vessels can result in serious, life-long damages, including injuries to the back, neck, and shoulder, loss of limbs, and/or wrongful death.

Common Types of Commercial Fishing Accidents

Causes of Commercial Fishing Accidents

It is the employer and ship operators’ legal responsibility to provide commercial fishing workers with a safe work environment. Oftentimes, these incidents were preventable, and negligence is to blame for these catastrophic accidents.

Causes of Commercial Fishing Accidents:

  • Inadequate Training
  • Poor Management
  • Unsafe Worksite Practices
  • Operating in Dangerous Weather Conditions
  • Failure to Maintain Machinery
  • Broken Safety Guards
  • Winch Failure
  • Overloaded Nets/Pots

There are several individuals who could be liable for the direct cause of the accident or injury, including other crew members, the captain, or your employer. A commercial fishing accident lawyer will fight to prove liability and get you the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.

Improperly Maintained Equipment

Improperly maintained equipment is a major cause of many commercial fishing accidents. Employers are required to ensure that all equipment is properly maintained, including regular inspections, qualified repairs, and maintenance.

Failure to perform regular scheduled equipment inspections and maintenance could result in serious accidents, including crane or winch failure, line accidents, or drowning.

Poor maintenance in the form of failing to maintain ship equipment led to the death of 3 fishermen in 2016. The fishing boat, named the Louisa, had been equipped with an improperly maintained life raft. The gas cylinder for the life raft was empty and had been improperly marked as being full. Reports indicated that the 3 men would have survived if the life raft had been properly maintained.

Unsafe Boat Working Environment

Employers and ship operators are responsible for providing workers with the safest possible ship working environment. Failure to ensure this has led to numerous injury-causing accidents, including slips and falls on slick floors, unsafe equipment locations, and lack of safety equipment.

Vessel Disasters

Vessel Disasters

Water vessel disasters can happen on commercial fishing boats of any size operation, from small snapper boats to large lobster and crab operations. These disasters can lead to serious injuries, pain and suffering, and even wrongful death.

Examples of Vessel Disasters Include:

  • Sinking
  • Collision
  • Fires
  • Crane Failure

Sinking is a commonly occurring disaster for all water vessels, including fishing boats. High winds and violent ocean waves lead to catastrophic incidents. Cold ocean temperatures decrease fisherman’s survival rates when a ship sinks.

The Ocean Ranger is noted as one of the most significant catastrophic events in the history of working ships. The ship suffered the brunt force of 65-foot waves and capsized, killing 84 workmen.

In February of 2022, the New York Times reported that at least 10 people died after a Spanish vessel carrying 24 passengers sank off the Canadian Coast into the Atlantic Ocean. 11 passengers are still missing.

Fire and smoke can cause serious injuries, including smoke inhalation and burns. Smoke inhalation also exposes the body to dangerous chemicals, including carbon monoxide and cyanide.

Heavy machinery and dangerous chemicals put fishermen at risk of serious injury or death caused by explosions and/or fires. In June of 2022, a 42-foot commercial fishing boat caught fire off the coast of Oregon. Only 1 worker was onboard and rescued by a good Samaritan. There are no updates on their current condition.

Fishing boats use heavy machinery, including cranes and winches, to pull fishing nets from the water. Employers and ship operators are responsible for making sure these tools are properly maintained to minimize the risk of using these pieces of equipment.

Failure to maintain cranes, winches, and nets can result in serious injuries. In 2016, a 20-year-old deckhand on a fishing boat was killed when a crane collapsed. Reports indicated that the fasteners on the crane failed. This lack of equipment maintenance was to blame for the fatal accident.

Commercial Fishing Accident Attorney

Willie D. Powell III is a Houston commercial fishing accident attorney who specializes in the complexities of maritime law. There are several acts under maritime law that provide additional protections for workers, including fishermen, who are injured at sea.

It is imperative that you contact a lawyer with the knowledge and experience to handle these complex cases. It can be tempting to settle with the insurance company during this stressful time. Do not accept any offer from the insurance company or employer without first speaking to an experienced maritime lawyer.

An experienced maritime lawyer has the knowledge and skill to seek and obtain all of the compensation that a fisherman is entitled to receive. An injured fisherman may be entitled to damages, including lost wages, current, and future medical expenses, maintenance and cure, compensation for pain and suffering, and additional punitive damages.

Willie D. Powell III understands the financial and emotional damages that his clients experience after these catastrophic accidents. He fights hard to get his clients 100% of the compensation that they deserve. Contact William D. Powell III today for help building a commercial fishing accident personal injury case.

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