Man Recently Rescued from Disabled Vessel in the Pacific
A man was recently rescued north of Washington off the coast of Petersburg, Alaska. The Coast Guard crew, Cutter Anacapa, rescued the owner from his anchored 30-foot fishing vessel. The crew was alerted to the man after receiving a report from a relative that the owner's boat was anchored 6 miles from the coast and needed help. The rescued man was treated for symptoms of shock, and was publicly given credit for seeking assistance before the situation worsened on the boat. The chief of incident management recommended that mariners inform the Coast Guard of developments in their voyage that may threaten the safety or health of anyone aboard or prevent them from reaching port.
This type of recommended action followed the recent U.S. Coast Guard celebration of the 1000th student to participate in the commercial fishing drill conductor's course. Instruction topics include quickly putting on an immersion suit, launching a life raft, sending out distress signals, recovering men overboard, knowing hypothermia and cold water survival skills, controlling flood, and keeping the vessel stable. Proper training in fishing vessel safety has saved many lives and limited the extent of injuries that occur during an emergency. Owners of fishing vessels must also maintain a seaworthy vessel and provide reimbursement to their crew members in the event of injury or illness during the voyage.
In maritime law, the money paid to fishermen for injuries and illness is known as maintenance and cure. Cure is the payment for medical expenses like doctor's fees, equipment, testing, and transportation to and from appointments. Maintenance is typically the payment for unearned wages that would have been paid by the end of the voyage, and determined by the employment contract signed prior to the voyage. Maritime case law has held that the unearned wages that may be collected include overtime pay and tips. This amount is supposed to aid the fisherman and his family while the fisherman recovers until he or she is well and cannot medically improve anymore. Maintenance amounts can vary, depending on the agreement signed with the vessel owner. A fishing vessel owner may attempt to minimize the amount paid, but they cannot completely remove that sort of recovery through contractual agreement. If an employment contract is ambiguous or other extrinsic evidence is available, then the contract may be contested in court and determined to be void.
The experienced Washington commercial fisherman injury attorneys, Gordon Webb and John Merriam are here to help you and your family get the money you need and deserve. If you have been injured while fishing onboard a commercial vessel, we work tirelessly to maximize your compensation. Through our combined experience working as a seaman, fishermen, boat builder, and maritime and admiralty lawyer, we understand the hardships our clients face and the aggressive representation they need. If you feel that your employment contract is not providing you with the monies you are owed under contract, contact one of our attorneys at the Seattle or Bellevue office at 877.800.1007 for a free, confidential consultation.