Workplace Hazards for Commercial Fishermen

Commercial fishermen enjoy active, physically demanding work that often pays competitively. However, this career path can also be quite dangerous. Fishermen face a much higher-than-average injury and fatality rates when compared to other industries, so with any fishing excursion, there is always a risk that it could be the end of someone’s career.

If you’ve been injured while working as a commercial fisherman, it’s important to understand your rights and learn about the compensation you can receive. Call Fuquay Law Firm today at 251-219-0329 to schedule a consultation.

Dangers Faced by Commercial Fishermen

The work conditions of commercial fishermen are virtually unknown to anyone outside this industry. Danger lurks around every corner. Some of the most common sources of injury for commercial fishermen include:

  • Commercial boats rely on complex machinery to manage daily work, and when this machinery is used unsafely or malfunctions, it’s often fishermen who pay the price.
  • This includes falls on deck, which may occur when the boat hits turbulent waters or a fisherman slips, and falls overboard, which can result in hypothermia or drowning.
  • Explosions can occur as a result of malfunctioning equipment or chemical reactions. However, they put everyone on board at risk of serious injuries and death.
  • Cold water shock. A fisherman encountering colder-than-expected waters or left in the water for too long can suffer from cold water shock, which can kill you as your limbs become incapacitated and hypothermia sets in.
  • Capsizing and collision. This is a risk of any work aboard a vessel, and even strong swimmers can find themselves unable to hold on long enough to be rescued.
  • Commercial fishermen may cut themselves on sharp bits of fish bone, leaving them exposed to infection from bugs and fish. Unless treated promptly, infections can spread and become serious.
  • Exposure to chemicals used aboard fishing vessels can cause serious illness over time.
  • Loud noises. While loud noises are unlikely to cause fatal injuries, they can do enough damage to the ears that fishermen may suffer permanent hearing loss.

Uncontrollable Dangers

Some dangers cannot be predicted or controlled, thanks to Mother Nature. Fishermen who find themselves working during a storm, in extreme hot or cold temperatures, or in dangerously windy conditions are at even higher risk of severe injuries.

Safety Tips for Commercial Fishermen

While you can never fully eliminate risk in the workplace, there are things that fishermen and other seamen can do to protect themselves. Use these safety tips to make each day out on the water less risky:

  • Be aware of weather conditions before going out on a trip. Plan for every possible outcome, even if the weather seems like it will be mild for the duration of the trip.
  • Know how to use all of the safety equipment aboard the vessel you’re working on. Additionally, review the locations of first aid kits and other tools you’ll need to handle minor injuries and illnesses.
  • Review safety protocols of a vessel before going aboard. Don’t stray from these protocols, even if pressured to by other seamen working with you. This is how injuries happen.

What to Do If You Get Hurt at Work

No matter how careful you are, injuries do happen at sea. When they do, it’s crucial to know your rights and take the right steps to protect them.

First, you should report the injury to your immediate superior. You may have to sign paperwork describing the injury and how it occurred. It’s also important to seek medical care right away. This might mean seeing a doctor once the boat docks, or it might mean having a doctor come to the boat if your injury is serious enough.

After that, talk to an attorney with experience in maritime law and the Jones Act. Commercial fishermen do not have access to the same workers’ compensation benefits as those who work in other industries, but they are entitled to maintenance and cure under general maritime law and the Jones Act.

Choose Fuquay Law Firm for Your Workplace Injury Claim

If you’ve been injured while working aboard a vessel, you may be entitled to maintenance and cure. Learn more about your options and how to get the compensation you deserve by calling Fuquay Law Firm. You can contact us online or give us a call at 251-219-0329 to set up your consultation.

Important Things to Know About Deckhand Injury Claims

When you are at sea, every worker’s role is a crucial one. Few others work in as rigorous conditions as a deckhand, a fact that puts them at substantial risk every time they go to work.

If you’ve been injured while working as a deckhand, you need to know about your options for compensation. Fuquay Law Firm can help. To learn more and discuss your case in greater detail, call us at 251-219-0329 to schedule a consultation.

The Role of a Deckhand

Deckhands fill a lot of gaps aboard a vessel, making them a crucial part of the crew. Deckhands perform a wide range of tasks, including:

  • Communicating with other crew members and maritime authorities
  • Performing maintenance on vessel components and equipment
  • Cleaning machinery
  • Greasing machinery
  • Doing basic repair tasks on the ship
  • Fueling
  • Helping passengers embark, disembark, and find their rooms
  • Loading cargo

Because they can help with such a wide variety of tasks, deckhands are often among the busiest crew members on a ship. This type of work is often extremely physically demanding, not to mention mentally exhausting.

The Dangers of a Deckhand’s Work

The variety of tasks entrusted to deckhands means that they are often at risk for some type of injury. Of course, like any other crew member, they are working in an environment that is inherently dangerous. Anyone working aboard a vessel at sea is subject to the whims of the water and the dangers of the weather.

Deckhands spend a lot of time working with a boat’s most dangerous components, including fuel tanks, heavy machinery, and cargo bays. When a deckhand is working above board, they are at risk of sudden shifts in direction caused by inclement weather. The risk of falling overboard is always present. Beyond that, though, many other injuries are reported by seasoned deckhands.

Repetitive stress injuries are fairly common, especially among deckhands who spend a lot of time loading and unloading cargo. The repetitive motions of repairing machinery can also take a toll on a deckhand’s muscles. Slip and fall accidents are another risk; even if a deckhand does not fall overboard, a fall can cause broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and other injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries, depending on their severity, can leave a deckhand with poor emotional control, limited communication abilities, limited mobility, or other side effects. Deckhands who suffer severe injuries might endure amputation, drowning, hypothermia, or the loss of an eye. Those exposed to dangerous chemicals in the course of their work could end up with chronic illness down the road.

Maritime Law and Deckhands

Deckhands are covered under maritime law, which means they have a right to compensation if a ship owner’s negligence causes them to sustain injuries. This ensures that deckhands, who give their strength and knowledge to the vessels they work on, are not left with nothing after suffering an injury they didn’t cause.

Under the Jones Act, deckhands can receive maintenance and cure. This covers medical expenses for all injuries related to the accident, as well as housing costs, food, wages, and other expenses incurred because of the injury.

However, if you believe you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act, it’s important to work with an attorney with in-depth experience in this area. Getting compensation under maritime law is very different from getting paid by workers’ compensation or a personal injury claim. As a result, it’s important to work with someone who has handled maritime law cases similar to your own.

Find Out How Fuquay Law Firm Can Support You After Your Work Injury

The team at Fuquay Law Firm knows what an important role that our nation’s vessels play in our economy, supply chain, and military force. We believe in helping deckhands, longshoremen, and other maritime workers get the compensation they are owed after an injury.

Too often, a vessel owner might skip necessary inspections or put off important repairs to save money or keep a trip on schedule. When those careless decisions cause deckhands and other employees to get hurt, we step in. Find out how we can help you by scheduling a consultation now. Call our team at 251-219-0329 or contact us online to take the first step.

5 Important Things to Know About the Jones Act

The Jones Act, originally created to support the shipping industry, has become an incredibly important part of the American economy. It has been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing communities to get access to PPE, testing equipment, ventilators, and other equipment necessary for frontline workers. As a seaman, you should know how many parts of your work are impacted by the Jones Act and how it affects you personally.

If you’ve been injured while working aboard a vessel, you may be entitled to compensation. Learn more about your options now by calling Fuquay Law Firm at 251-257-7337.

1. Your Vessel is Part of the Merchant Marine

The United States Merchant Marine includes civilian mariners and federally owned merchant vessels. These vessels work with both the government and companies in the private sector, allowing every part of the country to has access to important goods and services. If you work aboard a Jones Act vessel, your vessel is part of the Merchant Marine. This means that, during times of crisis, your vessel may be called upon to transport people, military items, or important supplies.

2. Maritime Law Determines the Outcome of Your Injury Case

If you are injured or killed in an accident aboard a Jones Act vessel, your case will be decided by maritime law. Most maritime law cases don’t involve trial by jury, but this isn’t the case in a Jones Act injury or wrongful death claim. Claims for compensation under the Jones Act are fairly complex, which is why it’s important to work with an attorney who focuses on maritime law and the Jones Act.

3. “Seaman” Has Multiple Meanings Under the Jones Act

The term “seaman” leads many to believe that the Jones Act only protects certain workers aboard a vessel. However, the term is intentionally very broad to allow protection to a wide number of employees. Usually, any crew member on a Jones Act vessel is considered a seaman. This includes those on oil rigs, towboats, dredges, and other vessels. This allows a greater variety of vessel workers to qualify for maintenance and cure if they are injured while working.

4. Know the Meaning of “Maintenance and Cure”

One of the most important parts of the Jones Act for seamen is maintenance and cure. Maintenance is a term referring to a seaman’s daily living expenses, including room and board while they recover from an injury. It also includes food, utilities, and property taxes. It does not include unnecessary expenses, however.

Cure refers to the seaman’s necessary medical expenses, which includes transportation to and from medical appointments. Cure is provided until the seaman reaches the point where additional treatment will no longer help them. This is known as the point of “maximum medical improvement.”

5. Understand the Standard of Proof Under the Jones Act

If you believe you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act, it’s important to understand the standard of proof in these cases. The Jones Act is significantly different from workers’ compensation, since workers’ compensation does not require an injured employee to prove that they were injured because of someone else’s negligence or malice. Under the Jones Act, you must be able to show that a crew member’s, owner’s, or officer’s negligence led to your injuries.

This may like an uphill battle, but you have a much better chance of a successful claim if you work with an experienced maritime law attorney. After an injury, you only have seven days to report it. You have three years to file a lawsuit after an injury. It’s recommended that you report the injury immediately and seek legal attention right away if you plan on fighting for compensation.

Turn to Fuquay Law Firm for Assistance with Your Claim Today

Have you been injured while working aboard a Jones Act vessel? If so, you could be entitled to compensation for the losses you’ve experienced if you can show that someone else’s negligence led to your injuries. Our team can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. To learn more about your options and take the first step now, call Fuquay Law Firm at 251-257-7337 or get in touch with us online to set up a consultation.

Protecting Maritime Workers During COVID-19

With so many maritime workers considered essential employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, many have found themselves wondering what their employers are doing—or should be doing—to keep them safe. COVID-19 spreads quickly in tight indoor quarters, so an entire ship worth of staff can quickly find themselves quarantined if proper precautions are not followed.

Have you fallen ill while working aboard a vessel? Let us help. Call Fuquay Law Firm at 251-219-0329 to set up a consultation now.

Training Delays and Changes

Some of the greatest changes affect those who are trying to enter the field or advance within their current career path. In an effort to keep maritime workers and students safe, schools have adopted new protocols and restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19 while still allowing students to get the education they need.

Historically, training for maritime careers has never been done online. That changed nearly overnight with COVID-19, and now many schools offer as much theory-based education online as possible. Schools that still offer in-person learning have had to make drastic changes to allow for social distancing. Classes that once held 100 students can now hold as few as 10, leading to unexpected delays for students.

Difficulties Obtaining PPE

The nationwide search for personal protective equipment has been particularly difficult for maritime employees, who have found themselves somewhere behind doctors, nurses, nursing home care staff, and hospitality workers in the growing need for gloves, masks, and more. However, with so many vessels requiring multiple employees to work together in tight quarters, PPE is non-negotiable. In response, many employers and professional associations have taken initiative to secure required PPE for maritime employees.

Schedule Uncertainties

Part of keeping people safe from COVID-19 is limiting exposure to infected individuals. As a result, many boats and other vessels have been kept adrift at sea until government officials could decide how best to handle a vessel with infected employees aboard. While this protects those on land from infected staff members, it leaves staff members onboard more susceptible to exposure.

The need for quarantine has also led to countless schedule changes. Workers may have to wait indefinitely for a trip to start while vessels are decontaminated, or trips may be cancelled if an outbreak sweeps through a vessel. Unfortunately, these schedule irregularities and lost income may be necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Compensation Options for Those Who Fall Ill

Even if proper precautions are taken and crew members use personal protective equipment, infections still happen. When crew members are infected by COVID-19, there are multiple ways they may be able to seek compensation. The Jones Act allows seamen who become ill while working to seek maintenance and cure. This act covers living expenses and medical expenses. This requires the seaman to prove that they fell ill while working, which is fairly easy with COVID-19 contract tracing.

Jones Act benefits are paid until the recipient reaches maximum medical recovery. In addition to other expenses paid, employers have to pay wages until the end of the trip. If the illness happened due to an employer’s negligence, the employee may be able to seek further damages. In this case, this may be an option if the employer fails to provide proper personal protective equipment, requires employees to work in close quarters when there are other options available, or knowingly places an infected seaman with uninfected workers.

Those who work as repair professionals, harbor workers, or stevedores may qualify for compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This covers medical care, vocational rehabilitation, and compensation to those who become ill in a maritime commerce job.

While there are compensation options for those who become ill, prevention is the far better option. Maritime employees should push for sufficient personal protective equipment, aggressive testing policies, and procedures that minimize their risk of catching COVID-19 while engaging in their essential work duties.

Reach Out to Fuquay Law Firm for Help with Your Maritime Injury Case

If you’ve been injured or become ill while working in a maritime position, you may be able to seek compensation. Learn more about your options now by contacting Fuquay Law Firm. Call us at 251-219-0329 or get in touch online to set up a consultation.