Articles Posted in Injuries to Crewman

Published on:

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.

Published on:

Two injured crewmen have been medevac’d from Alaska fishing vessels 135 miles north of Cold Bay. The crewman aboard the Northern Patriot was reported to have suffered a serious hip injury requiring emergent medical attention. The second crewman developed seasickness with loss of consciousness. The crewmen were both taken to Cold Bay for transfer to Anchorage for further evaluation and treatment.

The Northern Patriot is a 165-foot long trawler owned by Trident Seafoods. The Ocean Peace is a 220-foot long factory trawler. Both vessels are home ported in Seattle, Washington.

Recognizing and reacting to medical emergencies at sea is critical to crewman safety and the ability to recover from injuries. Contacting the Coast Guard for emergency medical advice and possible medical evacuating from a vessel is a vital resource and safety tool all vessel operators should be familiar with. Every vessel operator has a legal duty to provide their crewman prompt emergency medical care. This duty includes consulting with shore side medical experts when necessary to obtain proper medical advice about medical treatment. The duty continues once the crewman reaches shore and the vessel owner has a continuing duty under the maintenance and cure doctrine to pay all reasonable and necessary medical expenses associated with a shipboard injury or illness. This legal duty to provide medical care continues to the crewman reaches maximum medical improvement.

Published on:

A crewman was airlifted from the F/V Defender today after suffering a head injury while working aboard the vessel. The Defender is a 154-factory trawler. Early reports indicate the crewman was struck in the head by a 37-pound block of frozen fish. More information about the facts causing the injury are unknown at this time. However, blocks of frozen fish are standard aboard many Alaska factory trawlers. After processing the fish are placed into pans, which are frozen into blocks by the vessel’s plate freezers. The frozen blocks are then placed into bags or boxes and stored in the vessel freezer hold. Crewmen are frequently injured during this process. It is important that all equipment and safety procedures are followed to prevent crewman injury when they are handling frozen cargo.

The accident happened 260 miles north of Cold Bay. A Coast Guard flight surgeon directed the emergency evacuation of the injured crewman.   A Coast Guard helicopter stationed at Cold Bay airlifted the crewman to St. Paul where he was transported to Anchorage for further emergency medical treatment.

Serious head injuries must be promptly treated by emergency medical personnel. Following discharge from the hospital crewman suffering head injuries must be closely watched for signs of post concussive syndrome. Head injuries involving blows to the head can cause mild traumatic brain injuries. Symptoms of brain injury can include memory loss, headaches, personality changes, and depression.

Published on:

Deckhand, Juan Martinez died at sea when he went overboard while working aboard the 54-foot tuna fishing vessel Summer Breeze. The vessel owned by Pat Patana was home ported in Chinook Washington.   Martinez was 38 years old and is survived by his partner of 20 years, Lourdes Salvador and his two children.

The tragic incident happened approximately 100 miles west of Ilwaco. First reports indicate Patana reported he thought Martinez slipped and fell overboard while trying to untangle fishing lines. Patana told reporters that he tried to rescue Martinez but was unable to pull Martinez back on board the fishing boat. There were no nearby fishing vessels in the area to help Patana rescue Martinez.

Patana told local newspaper reporters that Martinez was an excellent employee with a strong work ethic.   Patana is organizing a November 11th fundraiser to benefit Martinez family.

Published on:


A 33-year-old crewman aboard the Alaska fishing vessel Island Enterprise was airlifted by helicopter following a hand injury on July 6, 2017.   The crewman reportedly suffered a severe injury to his finger, which was “limb threatening”. A ship to shore medical service, Health Force Partners, contacted the Coast Guard on the Island Enterprise’s behalf about treatment for the injury, after consultation with the Coast Guard flight surgeon the crewman was evacuated from the vessel.   The Island Enterprise was approximately 152 miles north of Dutch Harbor. Weather conditions were reported as 35 mile per hour winds with 8-10 foot seas. The Island Enterprise is a 280-foot fish processor owned by Trident Seafoods. The circumstances surrounding the crewman’s injury is currently unknown.

In an emergency medical situation a fishing vessel may contact the United States Coast Guard for medical advice and assistance. To avoid unnecessary delays that may lead to medical complications and possible death a crewman may be airlifted from the vessel as happened in this case.

Health Force Partners is a private medical consulting firm utilized by many Alaska fishing companies. Health Force Partners’ “Physician Healthline” provides medical advice about treatment of injured crewman to the vessels owner and the employer. According to Health Force Partners web site the Physician Healthline is staffed 24 hours a day and can on the average provide a physician consultation within a few minutes of being contacted by a fishing vessel. Health Force Partners may work with the employer to coordinate emergency medical care and medical evacuation for an injured fisherman.

Published on:

A Seattle jury awarded 1.35 Million dollars in damages to an Alaska Crab Fisherman, David Zielinski, who suffered a severe hand aboard the F/V TIME BANDIT in January of 2013. The Jones Act injury case alleged the Zielinski’s employer was negligent in instructing Zielinski and other crewman aboard the TIME BANDIT to shoot powerful mortar type fireworks at an adjacent crab fishing vessel. As Zielinski was holding the lighted fireworks device in his hand it exploded breaking multiple bones in his right hand and arm.

The TIME BANDIT is one of the featured Alaska crab boats on the popular television show “Deadliest Catch”. The vessel is owned by New Era Alaska and Time Bandit Inc. The vessel was operated by the Hillstrand brothers, John and Andy. In various episodes of the Deadliest Catch TV show the crew has been depicted lighting fireworks aboard the vessel. The vessel had its own fireworks packaged with the TIME BANDIT name.

A You Tube video posted on the Internet shows the Time Bandit and the Northwestern, another Deadliest Catch vessel, engaged in a firework fight on a separate occasion. The video appears to depict crewman holding mortar type devices, large roman candles in their hands and firing rockets and mortar shells between the two vessels.  A fair viewing of this video raises the question of not whether a crewman will be injured but rather when.

Published on:

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a maritime employer’s attempt to deny a deceased crewman’s family $400,000 in damages awarded for the crewman’s predeath pain and suffering. The maritime death case involved a truck mounted drilling rig on a barge in a Louisiana Bayou. The truck was not properly secured and toppled over crushing one crewman to death and injuring another.

Although the employer admitted negligence and unseaworthiness the employer made the argument that the crewman did not have conscious predeath pain and suffering after the drill rig fell and crushed him. The Court of Appeals rejected the employer’s argument finding ample circumstantial evidence that the seaman had moments of terror and freight as he attempted to escape from being crushed by the falling oil rig.  Eyewitness testimony showed that the crewman was aware of the danger and running for his life immediately prior to the impact, and photographs at the scene showed that his body was positioned in a defensive manner trying to protect himself. An expert pathologist also testified that the deceased crewman would have been conscious for several minutes after the impact.

The case, McBride v. Estis Well Service, 2017 WL 1321979, confirms the maritime law principle that a seaman’s predeath pain and suffering, terror, freight and fear of death are compensable damages even if only momentary in nature.

Published on:

Crewman who are injured or who become ill while working aboard Alaska fishing vessels are protected by Federal Maritime Law. Being seriously injured causes emotional and economic stress on an injured fisherman and his family. Experienced maritime injury lawyers understand that an important part of any legal case for an injured fisherman is recovering compensation for the injured crewman’s lost wages. If you have lost wages and suffered a disabling injury that impairs your ability to work in the future, you should consult with an experienced maritime lawyer to fully learn about your rights to compensation.

When a fisherman or fish processor has lost wages because of a shipboard injury their rights to benefits involves overlapping laws and claims. Many serious fishing accident cases involve large claims for future lost wages and lost wage earning capacity. These negligence based claims are based upon the Jones Act and the Unseaworthiness doctrine.

However, as explained below, in addition to Jones Act negligence and unseaworthiness claims in most cases an injured fisherman should be also be entitled to (1) the wages he would have earned had he completed his contractual period of employment; and (2) daily maintenance payments for living expenses. The law provides for these basic benefits during the period that the injured seaman is recovering from his injuries. Obtaining maintenance, cure and unearned wage benefits assists the seaman to survive while he recovers from his injury and is unable to work. First, under the General Maritime Law an injured fisherman or fish processor is entitled to his “unearned wages until the end of the voyage”. The unearned wage claim of an injured fisherman is different and distinct from his Jones Act negligence or unseaworthiness claim for lost past and future wages. The advantage of an unearned wage claim is that it is a no-fault remedy that should be paid without substantial dispute following an injury that leaves a fisherman unable to complete his employment contract.

Published on:

A discrimination case for a Hispanic crewman aboard an Alaska fishing vessel has settled 1.85 million dollars. The settlement stems from allegations of discriminatory conduct and harassment, which occurred aboard the Alaska long line vessel Ocean Prowler in 2011.   37 year old crewman and fish processor Francisco Miranada claimed the captain and mate of the Ocean Prowler targeted Mexican crewman for harassment, calling them dirty Mexicans and other racial epithets. Miranda was told he should swim back to Mexico. Miranda was born in the United States and is a United States Citizen.

The threats recounted to Miranda are familiar threats to lawyers who represent injured Alaska fisherman. Miranda was threatened that if he quit during the fishing trip they would not be paid. There are no unions to protect your job on a commercial fishing vessel. If you object to unsafe working conditions or improper treatment, crewmen quickly find themselves out of work.

Alaska commercial fishing vessels are crewed by workers with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The jobs in many cases are jobs of last resort for untrained workers who have limited education and English language skills.   Higher paying jobs are highly sought after by crewman. Sadly the commercial fishing industry continues to brew a toxic discriminatory environment where fear of retaliation causes much harassment and discriminatory conduct to go unreported.

Published on:

A crewman has been airlifted from a fishing vessel 20 miles off the Oregon Coast. The crewman was working aboard the fishing vessel Leann when he reportedly fell suffering a head injury. Initial VHF radio communications with the coast guard were incomplete and broken up. The Coast Guard utilized telephone communications to reach the master of the Leann and make arrangements for an emergency airlift. The 50-year-old injured crewman was reportedly unconscious following the fall and became combative as he regained unconscious. Closed head injury victims who suffer brain injuries frequently exhibit these types of symptoms. It is important to get immediate emergency medical care for any crewman suspected of suffering a closed head injury aboard a fishing vessel.

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Sector North Bend safely transported the 50-year-old man to medical personnel at Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay.   Weather conditions at the scene of the fishing accident were reported to be calm seas with light winds and clear visibility.

The circumstances of the crewman’s fall aboard the Leann are unknown at this time. All injury accidents involving fisherman require that a Coast Guard accident form “2692” be filed with the Coast Guard indicating how the accident occurred and making suggests for how such accidents can be prevented in the future. Slip and fall accidents aboard fishing vessels remain one of the most frequent causes of commercial fisherman injuries. To be a seaworthy a vessel proper precautions must be taken to ensure that a crewman at all times has a safe place to work.