Fishermen suffering injuries at sea are most often covered by the Jones Act and general maritime law seamen, with equivalent rights to those of merchant mariners, regardless of whether the fisherman is actively engaged in fishing, vessel operations or processing below deck.
What you don't know about how the law protects you in case of maritime injury can be expensive. You wouldn't sign on to a contract with an inexperienced skipper. You wouldn’t want to sign on with an inexperienced maritime injury attorney.
Fully 50% of our clients are fishermen. We often see fishermen who come to us completely unaware of their rights under Federal law as a Jones Act and general maritime law seaman. All that is required to qualify is a connection to a vessel in navigation, either at sea or inland waters or tied up to a dock, and employment that, in some way, furthers the mission of the vessel.
Like merchant mariners, fishermen may qualify for Jones Act and general maritime law benefits, including the right to recover for loss of earnings, future loss of earnings, pain and suffering, medical treatment and a living expense while under treatment. In cases where we represent injured fishermen, our job is to determine what benefits you may be entitled to and the amount of benefits you may recover in appropriate circumstances.
We represent fishermen on vessels where there may only be a crew of one or 200 or more. We represent fishermen who work above and below deck, or in the wheelhouse. Many fishermen suffer maritime injuries while engaged in processing operations, and we have fishermen who only work as processors aboard vessels.
Fishermen are often unaware of their rights. Sometimes claims agents or even boat owners or employers are unaware of the rights of the injured crewmember. Sometimes, boat owners or employer's representatives may be aware of these rights, but fail to inform the injured fisherman of what they are entitled to.
We have seen fishermen who have been told they are "workers compensation" claimants when, in fact, the fisherman will qualify for federal benefits as a Jones Act / general maritime law seaman. In many circumstances, although not all cases, the benefits payable under Federal law far exceed benefits payable under a State workers compensation program. You need an attorney experienced in maritime injury on your side.
A short, no-obligation initial consultation by telephone can provide sufficient information to determine whether you qualify for benefits under Federal law.