In 2018 Study Nearly 50% of Marine Accidents Involved Commercial Fishing Boats
According to data on CDC.gov, commercial fishing is one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States, with a fatality rate 29 times higher than the national average worker fatality rate. The NIOSH Western States Division (WSD) office in Alaska has been studying fishing safety since 1991 in an effort to reduce the number of commercial injuries and fatalities. The CDC has found that the biggest risks to fishermen are vessel disasters, falls overboard and machinery on deck.
When the National Transportation Safety Board looked over 15 marine accident reports that happened between May 12 and September 18, 2018, they found that nearly 50 percent involved commercial fishing boats. These commercial fishing boat accidents happened in the Gulf of Mexico (2), the Bering Sea (3) and in New England waters (2). The accidents involved two collisions, three engine-room fires, a capsizing, and a grounding out; some of the boats sunk as a result of the accidents.
Commercial boat employers owe a duty of care to their employees
The vast majority of accidents and subsequent injuries on commercial fishing boats are preventable. Maritime law says that commercial fishing vessel owners and employers owe a duty of care to their employees to provide a reasonably safe work environment by:
- Keeping the vessel free of hazards like broken flooring and spills
- Appropriately marking walkways
- Keeping equipment in good working order
- Providing appropriate training, supervision and manpower to get the job done safely
- Providing maintenance and cure services to injured workers
Who is liable for a commercial fishing boat accident?
If one of these boat owners failed to provide a reasonably safe work environment then they may be liable for injuries incurred by their crew. What could these boat owners have done to prevent engine-room fires and collisions?
In the case of the fires, neither vessel had a fixed fire-extinguishing system. Crew used grenade-type extinguishers that were not effective in putting out the fires. The other issue was that openings to the engine room were not closed, which meant the extinguishers were not as effective.
In the case of the two collisions, the NTSB found that failure to maintain a proper lookout was the cause.
Is a seaman entitled to compensation for an injury suffered on the job?
Yes, a seaman may be entitled to recover damages if he is injured in a maritime accident. The Jones Act specifically allows for a seaman to recover for injuries suffered during the course of his employment while at sea. The family of a seaman who is killed while he is employed at sea may also be eligible to file a wrongful death suit under the Jones Act. Whether the injured party is able to recover will depend upon the actions of the people who control the ship and the circumstances of the case.
Seek the help of a maritime law attorney
If you or a loved one was injured due to the reckless/negligent behavior of another seaman or maritime employer, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced maritime injury attorney fight for justice on your behalf. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a maritime accident lawyer. Call the most experienced practicing maritime accident attorneys Bellingham has at Tario & Associates, P.S. today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing grieving family members in Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!