Deckhands are a vital part ship operations. They provide critical manual services on a wide range of vessels. Their duties vary from unloading and loading cargo, to performing maintenance on the boat, to handling lines and cables. Unfortunately, there are many opportunities in a deckhand’s line of work for severe injury. When that occurs, the injured deckhand should consult an attorney to determine his or her options for recovery.

Washington, Alaska, California, and Oregon Attorneys for Deckhands

A skilled maritime attorney can represent you if you’ve been the victim of an injury at sea. At BOATLAW, LLP, we have decades of experience representing seamen, including those who have worked as deckhands throughout the Pacific Northwest, including the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Call us today at 1-800-262-8529 to schedule a free consultation.

We are qualified to represent clients in federal and state courts in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California.

Information for Injured Deckhands

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The Jones Act Is Applicable to Deckhands

If you are hurt in an accident on land, you may know to turn to the court closest to where the injury occurred. However, there are no courts at sea, where a deckhand works. Instead, personal injury matters while aboard a vessel are governed by maritime law.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, often called the “Jones Act” after its author, governs the ability of those who work on the ocean to recover for their injuries. The law gives “seamen” the right to sue an employer in the case of an accident that occurs while in service to a vessel.

A “seaman”, for the purposes of the Jones Act, is an employee who contributes to the accomplishment of a vessel’s mission or function, is in service to a vessel in navigation, and who has a substantial connection to the vessel both in nature and duration.

Generally, deckhands are covered by the Jones Act and are able to recover under this federal law.

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Types of Injuries Deckhands Suffer

Deckhands usually have multiple job responsibilities on a ship. Therefore, there tend to be multiple ways that a deckhand can be hurt. Some of these injury causing circumstances may include:

  • Cuts, amputations, and broken bones while handling lines and cables;
  • Burns due to fires and explosions while doing cleaning and maintenance; or
  • Shoulder and spinal cord injuries while loading and unloading cargo.

Employers and vessel operators are required to have adequate policies and procedures in place for the safety of deckhands and other seamen on a ship. Failure to have those procedures in place, or failure to have adequate supervision to ensure those procedures are followed, may result in employer or vessel owner liability for injuries to the crew.

It is also the responsibility of vessel owners to ensure their ships are “seaworthy”. If a ship sinks because of faulty design, poor construction, or inadequate maintenance, the vessel owner may be liable for injuries caused by the sinking. A ship is also unseaworthy if it does not have staff that is adequate, sufficiently qualified, or sufficiently equipped.

If you are the spouse, child, or dependent of a deckhand lost at sea due to negligence, you may be able to recover under the Death on the High Seas Act. Your recovery may include economic losses such as loss of support. The Jones Act may also cover certain losses for death.

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BOATLAW, LLP | Attorneys for Deckhands Injured in the Pacific Northwest

If you are a deckhand who suffered an injury on board a ship for which you were a crewmember, or if your loved one was a deckhand lost at sea, you have the right to recover for your injuries. An experienced maritime lawyer from BOATLAW, LLP can help you obtain that compensation. With offices in Bellingham, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco, BOATLAW, LLP serve the maritime workers of the Pacific Northwest, including those working in Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska. Call us today at 1-800-262-8529 for a free consultation.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, August 1, 2018.