Commercial fishing is one of the most important industries in the Gulf Coast region. According to the Texas Almanac, nearly $200 million worth of seafood are fished out of the state’s coastal waters each year. Unfortunately, commercial fishing is also quite dangerous. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that commercial fisherman face the second highest occupational fatality rate.
For commercial fishermen, navigating the work injury claims process can be complex. It is imperative that you know how to protect your rights and recover the full financial benefits you are entitled to under the law. Here, our Texas maritime lawyers explain what you need to do if you were injured while working in the commercial fishing industry in the Gulf Coast Region.
Commercial Fisherman and the Jones Act: Three Things to Know
- Commercial Fisherman are Often Covered by the Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal law that provides much needed protection to many maritime workers. Employees in the commercial fishing industry often qualify as ‘seaman’ for the purposes of the law. Though, eligibility for Jones Act protection is not based on your industry, but on the specific nature of your occupation. As a commercial fisherman, you may qualify if you job involves:
- Operating a fishing vessel;
- Diving or placing traps;
- Operating fishing equipment;
- Supervising a crew aboard a vessel; or
- Performing maintenance for a vessel.
- The Law Allows You to File a Personal Injury Claim Against an Employer
Under the Jones Act, a ‘seaman’, potentially including a commercial fisherman, has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against a negligent employer. Notably, most employees cannot bring such claims against employers. Instead, they are restricted to seeking workers’ compensation benefits. Through a Jones Act injury claim, maritime workers may be entitled to additional financial support, including all related medical costs, rehabilitative treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Workers Should Take Immediate Action to Protect Their Health, Safety, and Rights
Following a serious accident in the commercial fishing industry, it is crucial that workers take the proper steps to protect their health, well-being, and right to financial compensation. First, you should focus on getting professional medical attention. All serious injuries should be evaluated by a doctor. Next, the incident should be reported to your supervisor. Finally, you should consult with an experienced maritime law attorney. Your lawyer can review your case and make sure to take all of the proper steps to maximize your financial compensation.
Contact Our Houston Maritime Injury Attorneys for Legal Guidance
At the Kolodny Law Firm, our Texas attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate the depths of maritime law. If you or your loved one was hurt while working the commercial fishing industry, we are here as a resource. Contact our law firm today for a no-fee, fully private review of your case. With a legal office in Houston, we represent injured commercial fisherman throughout the entire Gulf Coast region.