Articles Posted in Injuries to Crewman

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A crewman working aboard the Alaska crab boat Patricia Lee was hit in the head by a crab pot Monday evening.  A Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued the man who was suffering from a head injury  symptoms.   The injured crewman was taken to Dutch Harbor for further medical evaluation where he was reported to be in stable condition.

Working on the deck of an Alaska crab boat is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.  The crewmen who sometimes work in heavy weather conditions are at risk of injury from swinging crab pots that sometimes weigh as much as a thousand pounds. It is important that proper safety procedures be utilized to protect the crew from injuries.

In this case, following the crewman’s injury, the Patricia Lee contacted the Coast Guard for medical advice. The Coast Guard Flight Surgeon recommended that the injured crewman be medevaced from the vessel.  In total because of the Patricia Lee’s distance from shore the medical evacuation involved two separate coast guard crews and involved two different helicopters.

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A 51 year old commercial fisherman has been airlifted from the F/V Devotion 34 miles southwest of Cordova. The vessel called for medical assistance after the crewman suffered a head injury and fell.  The on duty Coast Guard flight surgeon recommended  the crewman be medevac.   The injured crewman was transferred to a nearby tug where a Coast Guard helicopter lifted him to safety.  The crewman was taken to Cordova for emergency medical evaluation.

The facts and circumstances of the crewman’s injury area unknown at this time.  Weather conditions at the scene were reported to be 15 MPH winds with two foot seas.

It is important that all crewman who suffer head injuries while working at sea get emergency medical evaluation to determine the severity of their injuries.  Improperly treated head injuries can cause severe injuries and possible death. Every crew should be trained to contact the Coast Guard Flight Surgeon for medical advice for treatment of a severely injured crewman.

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A 25-year-old crewman, Grant Hildreth has been reported missing after falling overboard from the F/V CAPE GRIEG.  The tragic accident happened on Thursday in Ugashik Bay, Alaska.  Reports indicate the crew of the Cape Grieg tried to save Hildreth by throwing him a flotation device but that Hildreth went under the water and could not be found.   The cause of the accident is unknown at this time and is under investigation.  Hildreth was not wearing a personal flotation device.  Weather at the time of incident was reported to be relatively mild with a strong incoming tide.  The Cape Greig is a 175 foot long fish processing vessel owned by F/V BEAGLE LLC and is home ported in Seattle Washington.

Few accidents at sea are not preventable if proper training and safety procedures are followed.  It is common safety practice aboard Alaska fishing vessel for crewmen working on the deck of a vessel to wear personal flotation work vests.  These vests can save lives, and vessel owners must ensure that safety rules requiring wearing safety vests are enforced.  Fishing vessel safety regulations require fishing boat crews to drill and practice in rescue procedures in the event of a man overboard situation. The maritime lawyers at Johnson Beard & Trueb PC represent the families of crewmen who have been injured or killed working at sea; they have offices located in Anchorage and Seattle.

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February 21, 2018

A Coast Guard helicopter stationed at Cold Bay has airlifted a crewman from the Alaska fishing vessel Golden Alaska. The incident happened Tuesday about 60 miles northeast of Cold Bay.

The crewman was reported to have stroke symptoms. The Golden Alaska is a 307-foot Alaska fishing processing vessel owned by Golden Alaska Seafoods. The vessel works together with six catcher boats under the mother ship concept. The catcher boats catch the fish and deliver the fish to the Golden Alaska where the fish are processed at sea by crewmen aboard the vessel.

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The Coast Guard airlifted an unconscious crewman from the Alaska fishing vessel Island Enterprise on Friday.   The 57-year-old man was reportedly found unconscious in the vessel’s freezer hold. The 300-foot-long catcher processor vessel is owned by Trident Seafoods. The vessel was fishing approximately 57 miles northeast from Cold Bay. Weather conditions were reported to be 16 mph winds with eight-foot seas.

The Coast Guard was contacted by Health Force Partners who assisted in coordinating the medevac of the crewman. Health Force Partners is an emergency medical service utilized by many Alaska commercial fishing vessels. In this case after being contacted by Health Force Partners the Coast Guard Flight surgeon recommended immediate evacuation of the crewman from the vessel.   A helicopter pre-staged at Cold Bay was dispatched to rescue the man from the vessel. The crewman was returned to Cold Bay where a Guardian Flight Service crew was waiting to transfer the man to Anchorage for further medical care. The details of this particular accident aboard the Island Enterprise are currently unknown.

Injury accidents frequently occur in the freezer holds of factory trawlers. Injuries may involve falling fifty-pound bags or frozen boxes, conveyor belt injuries, lifting accidents, and slip and falls. In cases involving head injuries or an unconscious crewman, the crewman should immediately be accessed by qualified medical personnel to determine the extent of the injury.

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A worker suffered serious injuries aboard the Ergina Luck early Monday Morning. The Ergina Luck is a 750-foot Liberia flagged bulk carrier vessel and was anchored near Astoria, Oregon. The Coast Guard was contacted on Monday by the agent for the ship who reported the man had fallen in the vessel’s bilge and had injury his back and both legs. The injured crewman was reportedly aboard the vessel to install a recirculation system. The injured worker was reportedly employed by Degesch America, based in Portland.   The rescue team reportedly carried the man on a stretcher up three flights of stairs before lowering him to a motor lifeboat for transfer to shore. The facts and circumstances of the injury are under investigation. The outcome of the man’s injuries are currently unknown.

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The Coast Guard has medical evacuated a crewman from the fishing vessel Bering Hunter. The vessel was located approximately 60 miles south-west of Cold Bay. Reports indicate that the crewman fell and suffered a head injury. The Captain of the vessel requested a medical evacuation and following consultation with the flight surgeon the injured crewman was airlifted from the vessel by Jayhawk helicopter.   The Coast Guard, by advance placement of the helicopter in Cold Bay, are able to eliminate hours of flight time in emergency situation such as this. Prompt evacuation of crewmen who have suffered head injuries is important to the crewman’s safety. When in doubt call the Coast Guard who can provide a consultation with a flight surgeon about medical evacuation. Flight surgeons are on duty 24 hours a day to respond to emergencies.   No details about the cause of the accident were provided. Falls aboard fishing vessels at sea frequently cause crewman injuries. Working in heavy weather increases the risk of injury.

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A commercial fisherman in California has lost his life on Sunday in a crab fishing accident. Two crewmen working on the 47-foot Chief Joseph went overboard in the accident and the captain was able to rescue one of the crewmen but the other man could not be found. After an extensive air and sea search for the missing fisherman the Coast Guard has now called off the search.   The facts and circumstances of the accident are not fully known at this time and will likely be the focus of a Coast Guard investigation.

Commercial fishing on the California, Oregon and Washington coast remains an extremely dangerous occupation. Small vessels working in heavy seas compound the risk of injury and death. It is important that all the vessel’s gear be properly maintained and proper safety procedures followed. Crewmen working on deck should wear safety vests. Vessel crews should train and practice what to do in the event of a man overboard situation.

Two other crab fishing vessels required Coast Guard Assistance last week. With four crab fishermen on board, the 57-foot Lori Ann lost power and steering near the Humboldt Bay North Spit. The Coast Guard was able to quickly respond and tow the vessel to port.

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that injured seaman and fisherman may claim punitive damages under the general maritime law unseaworthiness doctrine. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the law that governs the claims for injured seaman that are filed in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California State and Federal Courts. Governing law in these Courts now permit a seaman who is willfully and recklessly injured as a result of the vessel’s unseaworthiness to claim punitive damages.   The standard for an award of punitive damages is “conduct which manifests reckless or callous disregard for the rights of others or gross negligence or actual malice or criminal indifference”. Punitive damages are designed to punish certain wrongful acts and conduct of by the vessel owner and to serve as a deterrent to other vessel to withhold from committing similar wrongful acts.

Punitive damages work. Since the ruling of the Supreme Court in Atlantic Soundings v. Townsend there has been a dramatic shift in the practice of vessel owners in the administration of maintenance and cure benefits. The threat of a potential punitive damage award has resulted in higher maintenance rates, broader approval of medical benefits, and an overall improvement in safety. Unfortunately, there remains many vessel owners who continue to negligent their vessels and operate them in an unseaworthy condition, and who ignore their duties provide proper maintenance and cure benefits. Punitive damages for unseaworthiness will play a vital role in ensuring that vessel owners abided by their duty to maintain and operate their vessels in a seaworthy manner.

The January 26, 2018 in Batterton v. Dutra Group, NO. 15-56775 (9th Cir. 2018) follows the land mark decision of the Supreme Court in Atlantic Soundings v. Townsend, 557 U.S. 464 (2009) and rejected arguments of vessel owner that Miles v. Apex Marine 498 US 19 (1990). The case adopts the Ninth Circuits prior ruling in Evich v. Morris 819 F. 2d 256 (9th Cir. 1987) and rejects the reasoning of the fifth Circuit in McBride vs. Estis Well Services 768 F. 3rd 382 (5th 2014).

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A 42-year-old crewman was airlifted from the trawler F/V Golden Alaska on Wednesday. The crewman was suffering from a hernia. The Coast Guard flight surgeon on call recommended emergency medical evacuation by helicopter.  The injured crewman was able to receive the needed surgical care reportedly within 8 hours of the coast guard being contacted.

Crewmen frequently suffer hernia injuries while working aboard Alaska fishing boats.  Excessive lifting, pulling and pushing can cause a hernia.  Vessel operators should minimize the risks of crewman suffering a hernia.  Minimizing the frequency of lifts and the amount of weight lifted reduces risk of injury.

The facts of this case are unknown at this time. The F/V Golden Alaska was fishing 75 miles from Cold Bay. Weather conditions on scene were 4-foot seas and winds of approximately 17 miles per hour.