Bering Sea Accident

Bering Sea Commercial Fishing Accidents involve injuries or fatalities that occur on commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea. These accidents can drastically alter a victim’s life, causing physical, emotional, and financial distress. Victims have a legal right to seek compensation for these hardships. A skilled lawyer can guide victims through the legal process, working to obtain the maximum compensation and justice.

In the following article, we’ll go over Bering Sea Commercial Fishing Accidents, covering their types and causes, legal options for victims, potential financial compensation under laws like the Jones Act, and the role of a lawyer.

Bering Sea Accident Lawyer

The Bering Sea is a dangerous place. While safety measures should be in place to protect the employees in vessels in the Bering Sea, poor conditions, lack of funding and improper safety regulations can all lead to disaster. Sometimes, injuries may be unavoidable, but the employer may refuse to pay for treatment or provide financial compensation to the family of the deceased.

If you or a loved one have been injured working in the Bering Sea, you need to contact a strong personal injury attorney with a history of winning cases. BoatLaw, LLP works aggressively to get you the financial compensation you deserve while keeping you informed.

Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to secure an initial consultation.

Back to top

About the Bering Sea

The Bering Sea, located off the coast of Alaska, is known for its rich marine life, making it a hub for commercial fishing. It’s one of the world’s largest fishing grounds, particularly for crab, salmon, and pollock. This sea is also a major route for shipping, connecting the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Notably, it’s home to the famous “Deadliest Catch” crab fishing grounds, where fishermen bear extreme conditions.

In the Bering Sea, key areas where maritime workers are found include Dutch Harbor in Unalaska, Nome, and the Pribilof Islands like St. Paul and St. George. Dutch Harbor is a major fishing port where people work in fishing, processing plants, and logistics. Nome is known for gold dredging and shipping, and it’s a starting point for Arctic research trips.

The Pribilof Islands focus on sealing and fishing, and they are also places where research on the environment and fisheries happens. These spots are crucial for jobs related to the sea, offering work in fishing, research, and other maritime activities.

Back to top

Types and Causes of Bering Sea Commercial Fishing Accidents

Victims of Bering Sea commercial fishing accidents are typically the crew members of fishing vessels. These include deckhands, who are directly involved in fishing activities, and engineers who maintain the vessel’s equipment. Captains and first mates, responsible for navigating and managing the crew, also fall victim to these accidents.

Bering Sea commercial fishing accidents include a range of dangerous incidents such as the following:

  1. Falling overboard – Often caused by slippery decks or harsh weather.
  2. Equipment accidents – Workers are injured by nets, hooks, or machinery.
  3. Vessel disasters – Accidents like capsizing or collisions represent a severe risk, especially in rough conditions, and can include both commercial ships and smaller boats..
  4. Equipment Failure – These accidents can occur because of poor maintenance, resulting in structural damage to the boat or handlers.
  5. Lifting and handling – Engaging with heavy gear or catches without proper equipment or procedure can lead to serious injuries.
  6. Overloading – Caused by poor visibility, navigation errors, or non-compliance with maritime traffic rules.
  7. Grounding of vessels – Commercial shipping vessels and tankers can commonly be grounded, especially in shallow waters or near coastlines.
  8. Fire outbreaks on ships – Involving both commercial and non-commercial vessels, fire outbreaks pose a significant threat, often resulting from mechanical failures or accidents.
  9. Environmental disasters – Disasters like oil spills, usually involving commercial tankers or ruptured pipelines are common.
  10. Incidents involving recreational boats, like personal boats or yachts, occur too, generally because of inexperience or bad weather.

Back to top

Victims of Bering Sea Accidents

Victims of these maritime incidents include crew members of commercial vessels like cargo ships, tankers, and other large shipping vessels, particularly in capsizing, collisions, or fires. Operators and passengers of recreational boats also fall victim, often lacking the training of commercial crews. Environmental workers, coastguard, and rescue personnel are affected during and after incidents, especially in oil spill scenarios or complex rescue operations.

Communities along the Bering Sea coastlines are impacted by environmental disasters, especially from commercial shipping accidents like oil spills, harming local wildlife and economies.

Back to top

Potential Liable Parties for Bering Sea Accidents

In the event of an accident in the Bering Sea, determining who is liable can be complex due to the activities and companies operating in these waters. The ship’s owner is often liable, especially if the accident was caused by a failure to maintain the vessel in a seaworthy condition or by not providing a safe working environment. The crew’s negligence or lack of proper training could also make the ship’s owner liable. Additionally, if the vessel is chartered, both the owner and the charterer might share responsibility, depending on their agreement and the degree of control each party had over the vessel’s operations.

Also, manufacturers of equipment and machinery used on board might be liable if a malfunction or design flaw contributed to the accident. In cases where the vessel was navigating through negligently marked shipping lanes or hazardous areas, those companies could also bear some responsibility. Furthermore, other ships that collide with or otherwise cause an accident involving the victim’s vessel due to negligence or violation of maritime laws could be held liable.

Back to top

Legal Options for a Victim

Filing a lawsuit for a Bering Sea accident usually involves claims of negligence and unseaworthiness. Negligence claims under the Jones Act can arise from situations like inadequate training, failure to provide safety equipment, or unsafe conditions. An unseaworthiness claim focuses on the vessel’s state, where liability falls on the ship owner if the vessel was not adequately equipped, maintained, or fit for use at the accident time.

Besides the Jones Act, maritime law provides avenues for victims to pursue claims against parties other than their employer or the ship owner. This could include actions against contractors, equipment manufacturers, or other entities whose actions or products contributed to the accident.

Back to top

Potential Damages in a Bering Sea Accident Case

Under the Jones Act or general maritime laws, maritime workers who have been injured due to negligence on the part of their employer or due to an unseaworthy condition aboard the vessel can pursue compensation. The Jones Act allows for damages covering lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and future economic losses. An unseaworthiness claim covers similar damages.

Additionally, maintenance and cure benefits are available under general maritime law, ensuring that injured seamen receive medical treatment and living expenses until they reach maximum medical improvement.

In cases of wrongful death, the Jones Act provides for compensation to the seaman’s dependents for lost financial support, funeral expenses, and pre-death pain and suffering.

In general maritime personal injury cases against parties other than the victim’s employer, such as third parties or manufacturers, victims may receive compensation for similar types of damages as under the Jones Act, such as medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Additionally, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides protection to dockworkers, harbor workers, and other maritime employees not covered by the Jones Act. This act provides for medical benefits, compensation for lost wages, and rehabilitation services for workers injured on the job. In the event of a worker’s death, the LHWCA also provides benefits to surviving family members. Eligibility for the LHWCA includes employees who work in maritime occupations on navigable waters or adjoining areas such as docks and shipping terminals. This broad coverage ensures that a wide range of maritime workers receive necessary support and compensation following workplace injuries or fatalities.

Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) expands the scope of coverage to include employees working on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States in the exploration and development of natural resources, such as oil and gas. This means that workers involved in these offshore activities are entitled to the same protections and compensation as those working in more traditional maritime roles covered by the LHWCA.

Back to top

Steps to Take After the Accident

After a Bering Sea commercial fishing accident:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: First and foremost, attend to any injuries by getting medical help immediately.
  2. Report the Accident: Notify your supervisor or the shipowner about the accident as soon as you can.
  3. Document the Scene: Take the time to document the accident scene and collect contact information from any witnesses.
  4. Keep Medical Records: Preserve all medical records and receipts connected to the injury. These documents are crucial for any potential legal claims.

For Jones Act negligence and general maritime unseaworthiness claims, victims have three years from the injury date to file a lawsuit. If they miss this deadline, they can’t sue for damages. For claims under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), the deadline is one year from the injury date.

Back to top

Role of a Bering Sea Accident Lawyer

A Bering Sea commercial fishing accident lawyer can provide support to victims. The lawyer will assess the case, determine the applicable laws and potential damages, and represent the victim in legal proceedings. They can negotiate with insurance companies and employers on the victim’s behalf. Importantly, the lawyer ensures the victim’s rights are protected throughout the legal process, from filing claims to pursuing fair compensation for injuries and losses sustained in the accident.

Back to top

Additional Resources

Capsizing and Sinking of Fishing Vessel Destination

This report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) examines the tragic event where the fishing vessel Destination capsized and sank in the Bering Sea, close to St. George Island, Alaska, on February 11, 2017. All six crew members aboard were presumed dead following the incident. The investigation into the sinking involved testimony from 46 witnesses, alongside analysis of weather conditions, human factors, and the vessel’s mechanical state and stability prior to its final voyage.

Alaska’s Ten Worst Shipping Losses In The Last 20 Years

This resource from the U.S. Department of the Interior provides a serious list of the ten most devastating shipping losses in Alaska over the past two decades. Each entry includes the date, vessel type, name, cause, location, and the number of lives lost. The compilation highlights risky maritime activities in Alaskan waters.

Vessel Disasters

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) outlines important information about vessel disasters, identifying them as the leading cause of fatalities among commercial fishermen. The site covers statistics on fatalities resulting from incidents, the contributing factors, and efforts towards prevention and survival. It emphasizes the significance of proper safety training, maintenance, and compliance with regulations to mitigate risks associated with vessel disasters in the fishing industry.

Back to top

Hire a Bering Sea Accident Lawyer

Contact us today to champion your cause and navigate the complexities of maritime claims, ensuring that your rights are fiercely protected and your future is secured.

Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to secure an initial consultation.

We litigate maritime cases across the country from our offices in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California. We handle cases that occur in the Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, Coos Bay, The Columbia River, Grays Harbor, Port Angeles, Lake Tahoe, Dutch Harbor, and the Gulf of Alaska.

Do not settle for less than what your case is worth.

Back to top