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The Dangers of Commercial Fishing

Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous professions in the country. In fact, commercial fishermen have a fatality rate that is approximately 30 times higher than the national average. Commercial fishermen who survive commercial fishing accidents are often left permanently disabled. In this article, we examine the dangers of commercial fishing.

Statistics About the Dangers of Commercial Fishing

As noted above, commercial fishing is among the most dangerous professions in the United States. A recent article in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine included the following statistics on commercial fishing in the United States:

  • Approximately 38 commercial fishermen die each year while on the job.
  • Deckhands suffer half of all commercial fishing fatalities.
  • Vessel disasters are the leading cause of commercial fishing fatalities. This includes ships that capsize or suffer enough damage that the crew must flee.
  • Falls overboard are the second leading cause of commercial fishing deaths.
  • Severe weather leads to the largest share of commercial fishing disasters.
  • The second leading cause of commercial fishing disasters is instability from overloading.
  • The leading causes of falls overboard are the consumption of drugs and alcohol and working alone.
  • West Coast fishermen are half as likely to suffer fatalities as East Coast fishermen.

Staying Safe as a Commercial Fisherman

These statistics make it clear that commercial fishing is an extremely dangerous profession. However, there are things ship owners and commercial fishermen can do to keep fishermen safe while on the job. Ship owners, for example, should pay attention to the stability and integrity of their ships. This means that they must perform routine maintenance and make all repairs necessary to keep their ships in working order. In addition, ship owners should ensure that safety equipment is available for use by their employees. When ship owners fail to take these types of precautions, they can be held liable for injuries suffered by fishermen on their ships.

However, commercial fishermen must also be proactive regarding their safety. Steps commercial fishermen can take to stay safe on the job include:

  • Wear a life jacket.
  • Stay aware.
  • Wear appropriate footwear.
  • Stay rested.
  • Avoid being on deck alone.
  • Participate in safety drills.

Filing a Maritime Claim

Most maritime employees can file workers’ compensation claims for their injuries. However, depending on the circumstances, additional compensation may be available via the Jones Act and other maritime laws. Therefore, if you’ve been hurt at sea, you should contact a maritime attorney to explore your options.

Contact a Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana Maritime Attorney 

If you have suffered injuries as a commercial fisherman, you need a talented group of Louisiana and Gulf of Mexico admiralty and maritime lawyers on your side. At Koch & Schmidt, our experienced maritime lawyers serve commercial fishermen in Southern Louisiana and the Texas Gulf Coast region. If you are an injured commercial fisherman, we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Please contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.