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New York Maritime Law Blog

What 2 factors contribute to commercial fishing accidents?

Some Manhattan area residents find commercial fishing to be a lucrative career choice. As rewarding as it can be, there are dangers that many fishermen are aware of. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “commercial fishing is one of the riskiest jobs in the country; the national fatality average is 29 times lower than the industry.” 

Each year, thousands of fishing industry workers are injured while performing their jobs. It is not uncommon for them to end up with broken bones, lacerations, spinal cord trauma and brain injuries. Some injuries are preventable. However, there are many factors one must take into consideration to reduce the risk of trauma and death while working on a commercial fishing vessel. Listed below are a couple of them. 

Bar Date Notice of Bar Date to File Injury Claims - Collision - USS John S. McCain and MV "Alnic MC".

All persons having claims resulting from this incident must file a claim on or before June 15, 2018 in the US District Court for the SDNY (Manhattan). Failure to timely file will result in loss of claim rights.
Contact us for further Information as we are now processing and filing claims.

The benefits of the jones act

Regardless of the specific career path, a job in the maritime industry can become more demanding than work in other fields in many ways. Certain laws in the nation aim to protect workers from the dangers inherent in daily shifts, such as heavy machinery, safety risks of ships and unpredictable weather. Many New York maritime workers have a world of questions when it comes to those laws, however, as they have changed continuously over recent decades.

As City Lab explains, the Jones Act is a law created in 1920, which initially strived to create a safe environment for maritime workers after World War I. The primary focus of the act is to ensure that only U.S. ships transport all goods transferred between U.S. ports. After natural disaster struck Puerto Rico last year, the nation expressed frustration over President Trump's views on the Jones Act; however, City Lab urges readers to reassess the benefits of the law itself. Those in support of the Jones Act stress that any modifications to the law could jeopardize benefits for U.S. sailors. The act protects the rights of American sailors, helping them avoid being exploited, covering medical needs and creating a safe working environment overall.

Detailing the extensions to the Longshore Act

Many in Manhattan may perceive a career in the maritime industry to be filled with intrigue and adventure. What they may not know is that such work is also very dangerous. The unpredictability of the world's oceans and seas often put those who work on such waters at risk. Fortunately, maritime workers are protected from having to bear the brunt of expenses that may arise from workplace accidents by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act

According to the Cornell Law School, the LHWCA covers those who work for employers that operate "upon the navigable waters of the United States (including any adjoining pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, or building a vessel)." Yet since the enactment of this law, cases have arisen that have pointed out coverage gaps that may leave certain workers exposed.

How dangerous is commercial fishing? Feds say more data is needed

It’s common knowledge that commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Hard labor, long days and unpredictable weather frequently lead to injuries and fatalities, with the Coast Guard investigating hundreds of accidents each year.

While everyone agrees that the injury and fatality rate is high in the industry, it is actually difficult to say exactly how high, according to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The problem, the GAO found, is that there is no reliable source of data on the total number of active commercial fishing vessels in U.S. waters – that is, how many fishing vessels are actively operating, catching and selling fish and other catch.

The reality of the fishing industry

The commercial fishing industry has long been known for its tough working environments and potential safety hazards. Many New Yorkers are unaware, however, of the complexities of the dangers fishing workers face on any given shift. The following takes a look at the reality of fishing work, and the many ways in which employees put their lives on the line.

It is no surprise that a job involving one of the earth's most powerful elements would take a considerable amount of grit. ToughNickel identifies fishing-related jobs as some of the most dangerous in the nation, even deeming it as having some of the highest fatality rates in a 2014 study. Until 2015, ToughNickel called this work the toughest in the country. In 2008 alone, the industry saw 129 deaths and 61 injuries per 100,000 workers; that number only dropped slightly in 2010, with 116 fatalities. Nevertheless, this field of work attracts countless employees to choppy waves, uncertain weather and other unexpected turns of the job. 

Hit-and-run on lake results in man's arrest

A day out on the water is typically meant to offer boaters a reprieve from the stresses associated with daily life in Manhattan. Yet waterways can quickly become congested with other recreational boaters who are also looking for the same escape. A lake will usually offer those navigating it ample space to do what they want to do, yet the same caution that one exhibits on land must also be used on the water. That means that, if an accident does occur, those involved are obliged to remain at the scene until it is resolved. 

In some cases, resolution may require rendering aid. That is exactly what was needed after a teen riding a jet ski that was struck by a boater on a lake in Arizona. The boater who hit him then claimed he was going for help, yet according to information shared by his passenger, instead went back to his camp site. Fortunately, others out on the water came to the teen's aid, and he was able to survive the ordeal despite sustaining serious injuries. 

Does the Jones Act apply to heart disease?

Maritime work is a hazardous occupation, particularly if you are working at sea. Along with accidents and other safety concerns, seafarers are at risk of developing serious health problems due to the type of work they do, including carrying cargo and handling dangerous materials. Long working hours, stress, and endemic or epidemic diseases can also put them at risk, even if they pass a medical test with flying colors before getting underway.

Marine Insight notes that cardiovascular disease is common among those who work at sea, as it is with many communities throughout the U.S. Like those who work on land, bad genes, age and smoking can play a role in seamen who develop this disease. However, certain conditions on board a ship, such as stress, limited diet options and lack of exercise, can play a role as well. When crew size is minimal, everyone may have more work to do and less time to do it, which can contribute to stress levels. Many ships also lack fitness equipment, as well as recreational opportunities that can help lower stress levels.

Understanding who qualifies as a seaman

For those in Manhattan who work at sea, it may seem as though every day that an employment-related injury keeps them stuck on the shore represents lost wages and benefits. Fortunately, there are specific rules and regulations in place that entitle such an individual to maintenance and cure. As has been detailed on this blog before, maintenance is meant to cover all of a wounded sea worker's daily expenses, while cure helps in paying their medical costs. Yet before one injured while on the high seas (or preparing to embark for them) begins to plan on receiving this benefit, he or she should first seek to understand if he or she evens qualifies for it. 

Per maritime law, the following elements must be present in cases involving maintenance and cure: 

  • The plaintiff qualifies as a seaman
  • He or she sustained injury while in the service of the vessel
  • The vessel was in navigation (or on navigable waters)

Laws surrounding workplace fatalities in the fishing industry

Whether it is a hot stove or heavy construction equipment, a large majority of industries pose some level of threat to employees. Even rush hour traffic presents some level of danger to the everyday nine-to-five New Yorker. Some industries, such as commercial fishing and other marine occupations, can threaten the lives of workers during each shift. Although jobs in the U.S. are reportedly getting safer, hazards can be an inherent part of this field of work. 

In most industries, employers must notify employees of the potential dangers specific to their field of work; this is a common step in the hiring process for many electricians, construction workers and roofers. In an article on dangerous jobs, Forbes adds commerical fishing to this list. Although the Bureau of Labor statistics for fatal work injuries show a decrease in the number of fatal accidents over recent years, work in fishing is nevertheless the second deadliest industry in America -- at the time of the data's release in 2012, commercial fishing's fatality rate was was 117 per 100,000 full-time workers. Forbes noted that Alaskan shellfishing is particularly dangerous to workers, with rising fatalities over the years.

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