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Legal Blog

Commercial Fishing Accidents and Maritime Law

Commercial fishing accidents occur far too often in this country. During the period from 2010-2014, the Commercial Fishing Incident Database (CFID) recorded 188 commercial fishing fatalities, which averages to about 38 deaths per year. Most of the casualties are deckhands, who are exposed to the risks of heavy machinery, lines, and open water. These risks have always been inherent to the job, but there are still ways that fleet operators and vessel owners could make the job safer for their crews.

When you get injured because your employer failed to take the necessary steps to ensure your safety, you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act. But you need to act fast. The statute of limitations starts ticking on the day of your accident, or the time when you notice your injury. If you are suffering after a commercial fishing accident, call The Krist Law Firm, P.C. to speak with a Houston maritime accident lawyer.

To schedule a free consultation of your case, contact us today at (281) 283-8500.

The Jones Act Generally covers commercial Fishing Accidents

The Jones Act is a federal law that gives injured the sailors the right to sue their employers in federal court for negligence after an accident. The Jones Act generally applies to your case when:

You were injured while working on an American ship.
If you incurred harm through your work as a sailor or seaman on an American vessel, you are covered by the Jones Act.

Your job qualifies you as a sailor or seaman.
Most people working on a ship will be considered sailors, whether they’re deckhands, navigators, or cooks. The key is whether your job contributes to the normal operations of the ship. If you spend the majority of your time working on the vessel to further its operations, you are likely covered by the Jones Act.

If the above applies to you, then the Jones Act gives you the ability to sue your employer for negligence after an accident. To prove negligence, you must demonstrate that you incurred injuries because your employer did not meet the duty of care owed to you. In the context of operating a fishing vessel, the shipowner’s duty of care can take on many different forms, including:

  • Hiring and training competent officers and crewmembers
  • Ensuring the vessel is seaworthy
  • Maintaining fishing lines, winches, and nets
  • Being aware of dangerous weather conditions
  • Installing adequate safety features onboard
  • Properly training the crew and its officers

If you are injured as a result of your employer’s failure to meet the standards described above, it is likely that you have a negligence case against them. The above list is by no means exhaustive, and there could be many reasons why a shipowner could be responsible for your injuries. For this reason, you should talk to an experienced lawyer if you have been injured on a fishing vessel.

Contact a Houston Maritime Lawyer Today

If you’ve been injured while working on a commercial fishing vessel, your employer has likely offered you a settlement. You may be tempted to accept it, but this could be a mistake. You could be entitled to much more depending on the circumstances of your case. Even if you need the money now to pay for your medical and family expenses, it’s worthwhile to talk to a lawyer before accepting a settlement offer. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our goal is to get every one of our clients the help they need after an accident. Call us today at (281) 283-8500, or reach out online to schedule a free, initial evaluation of your case.