The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that crabbing, especially harvesting Alaskan King crab is one of the most dangerous jobs on earth. The crabbing season is extremely short, requiring crabbers to work long hours to catch the largest volume of crabs possible before time expires. Many times, crabbers are injured through overwork or by handling overloaded traps. Even a simple mistake can cause catastrophic injuries or death on board when the deck and platforms are coated with thick ice.
In some situations, the crabber is knocked into the freezing waters on a listing boat pushed by the high seas. Crab boat accidents often cause injury or death to deckhands, crab processors and other crew members at nearly every stage of crabbing. Many personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit for compensation involves:
- Crab blocks
- Crab pot launchers
- Deck crane malfunctions
- Defective picking boom
- Crab pot stacking injury
- Bait chopper accident
- King coilers, line coilers and line bins
- Crab processing equipment malfunction
- Crab sorting table injury
- Malfunctioning circulating water system
- Hatch accidents
- Discharge chute malfunction
- Poor piloting
- Improperly trained crewmembers
- Slip and fall accidents due to icing on the deck and rails
When a crewmember is injured or killed while crabbing, victims and surviving family members are legally entitled to seek complete and full compensation. However, maritime laws involving crab boat accidents are complex and require the skills of a competent personal injury attorney to handle the claim or lawsuit.
The Jones Act: The Law Protecting Injury Crab Boat Workers
If injured on the job, every crab fishing vessel crewmembers is provided protection under the Jones Act and U.S. maritime laws. The Jones Act controls the relationship between crewmembers and employers working on U.S. vessels. It holds employers and other parties liable to the victim for any injury that occurs through the negligence of the vessel owner, agents or officers.
These laws are complex and successfully achieving financial recompense in crab boat accidents can be difficult. Victims seeking compensation are required to prove negligence of all parties alleged to be at fault. However, the Jones Act has its limitations and only covers work-related injuries and deaths. Because of that, victims and surviving family members will often hire a skilled personal injury attorney who specializes in maritime law to seek compensation far past the limitations of the Jones Act.
Seeking Financial Compensation When an Accident Occurs on a Crab Boat
Many accidents that occur on the open waters can end careers, even when the most rugged workers are injured. If the injury is caused by the unseaworthiness of the vessel or negligence of others, the injured victim can often seek additional compensation over and above those provided by the Jones Act. A skilled attorney might be able to prove negligence by showing that the vessel was maintained improperly, did not have adequate safety equipment or was operated by an inexperienced crew.
There are other factors that might prove negligence, like if a fellow crewmen assaulted the victim within the scope of their employment or if the injuries occurred because the victim was following negligent orders. The pilot/owner/operator might have:
- Failed to circumvent harsh weather
- Made the employee work overtime
- Failed to rescue the victim after falling overboard
- Did not provide adequate medical treatment
- Failed to supervise subordinates properly
Legal Advocates Looking Out For Your Best Interest After a Crab Boat Accident
Even though the Jones Act and maritime laws were enacted to provide protection to individuals working at sea or compensation for surviving family members, they are limited in the benefits they provide. Many insurance companies representing vessel owners and operators will use effective tactics to minimize the amount of compensation provided to injured victims. Because of that, many crabbers, deckhands and seafood processors will hire personal injury attorneys who handle maritime law cases.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC specialize in crab boat accident claims. We fight aggressively on behalf of our clients to hold employers, vessel owners, operators and other parties responsible for the accident accountable for their negligence. Contact us at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a confidential, free consultation.