March was not a good month for workers on fishing boats. One worker, Andrew “Drew” Fotu, 25, from Seattle was a crew member on the F/V Alaska Juris was struck in the head by a snapped cable on March 1, 2012. The blow to the head was so severe that he immediately began bleeding from his mouth and exhibited life threatening vital signs. Coast Guard helicopters were summoned and a dropped rescue swimmer boarded the fishing boat only to determine that Fotu had already passed away. His body was taken to Unalaska. At the time of the accident the 255-foot trawler Alaska Juris, owned by the Seattle based Fishing Company of Alaska, was fishing 225 miles southwest of Dutch Harbor. The same company was the owner of the Alaska Ranger, which lost five of its 47 man crew when it sank in 2008.

Then on Monday, March 5, 2012 at around 9:30 a.m., another snapped cable struck another crew member in the head on the F/V Alaska Ocean. The Worker was Franz Dalquen, 47, and the 376 foot trawler is owned by Glacier Fish Company of Seattle, according to Petty Officer Sean Petty. The blow to Dalquen’s head knocked him unconscious for five minutes or so leaving him extremely disoriented. He was flown to Cold Bay via Coast Guard helicopters and then taken to Anchorage by a LifeMed helicopter for treatment and observation.

The men who work on trawlers are exposed to extreme danger every day while at sea. The tremendous tension and stress that is created by the cables on a 399 foot trawler can result in catastrophic injury ordeath to anyone in the way, if they should snap. When a crew member receives an injury it is very important to determine his legal status in order to understand what benefits he is entitled to. As a general rule a crew member will be entitled to different benefits than worker’s compensation benefits for injuries that occur on land. If the individual is determined to be a seaman, recovery is provided under the Jones Act and general maritime law. The determination of who is a seaman and who is not is highly technical and should be undertaken only by experienced maritime injury attorneys so that proper compensation can be obtained.

For example, seaman status does not rely on where the injury occurred but what duties the worker was performing that contributed to the vessel’s function and operation in navigable waters. If you are determined to be a seaman, you are entitled to maintenance and cure, daily allowance and medical bills during the time you are off work. Then it is possible to seek recovery for a variety of damages such as pain and suffering, past and future lost earnings, past and future mental anguish and disfigurement, among other things in a Jones Act lawsuit against your employer if they were negligent or if the vessel was unseaworthy.

The maritime personal injury attorneys at Anderson Carey Alexander are experienced in handling Jones Act cases. We have been successful in obtaining just compensation for crew members on fishing vessels for over 30 years, either by settlement or verdict. Contact us at one of our offices in Seattle, Bellingham or Portland to schedule your own confidential, no-obligation consultation to discuss your particular case.

Other Resources:

One man dead, another hurt in fishing boat accidents, Anchorage Daily News, Article by Michelle Theriault Boots, March 6, 2012.

Related Blog Posts:

Tragic Boat Fire in Bellingham, Washington Maritime Injury Lawyer Blog, April 3, 2012

Injured Alaskan Crewman Defeats Owner’s Limited Liability Claim-In the Matter of the Complaint of Leo, LLC et al. v. Flora, Washington Maritime Injury Lawyer Blog, February 27, 2012