LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Timothy Justin Young | Aug 22, 2013

The Most Dangerous Maritime Jobs in the U.S: Why Injuries Occur

As any reality show junkie can attest, commercial fishing – as depicted in hit programs like “Deadliest Catch" and “Wicked Tuna" – is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. But commercial fishing isn’t the only dangerous maritime job out there.

Why Maritime Workers Need Special Protection

There is an inherent danger when working on a vessel, platform, or in a longshoreman position. This is why states and the federal government strictly regulate all maritime industries and demand high safety standards from employers.

Despite these regulations, accidents and fatalities are an unfortunate reality, necessitating protective acts like the Jones Act and other maritime laws. These laws allow injured workers to pursue compensation for injuries, lost wages, and other damages.

An Overview of the Most Dangerous Maritime Jobs

The nature of maritime work – strenuous physical labor, heavy machinery, and unpredictable weather conditions – renders most any maritime job dangerous. There are some occupations, however, that carry a particularly strong risk.

Commercial fishing tops the list of dangerous maritime jobs because of a high fatality rate as compared to other occupations in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2011, the fatal injury rate for fishers and related fishing workers was 127.3 per 100,000 workers.

Some of the risks associated with the job include unpredictable weather and frequent rough seas, long hours (can be essentially round-the-clock in particularly busy periods), heavy and dangerous equipment (such as motor-operated fishing lines and mechanized traps), and the hard manual labor involved. Falling overboard and vessel disasters are among the most dangerous causes of serious or fatal injury.

While commercial fishing is the most dangerous, it is not the only risky maritime work out there, other jobs putting workers at risk for injury and fatality include:

  • offshore oil workers;
  • deckhands;
  • longshoremen;
  • harbor workers (particularly those working in blast zones); and
  • offshore natural gas platform workers.

Life after an On-the-Job Injury

Maritime work is typically very hard labor performed by employees with a strong work ethic and a profound dedication to the job. This sense of loyalty is why so many injured maritime workers are hesitant to pursue damages in a Jones Act claim or lawsuit.

The common myth of the so-called “blackball list" – a non-existent list that punishes or “shuts out" injured workers who have in the past recovered Jones Act compensation – stops many injured workers from pursuing fair damages. In reality, an injured worker who files a successful Jones Act claim has the option to return to the industry, provided he or she is able to sufficiently heal from injury.

A seaman who suffers injury while working a dangerous maritime job will have many financial considerations. Hospital and medical bills can quickly escalate, particularly when the injured victim is unable to work.

A Jones Act claim seeks to address financial losses that include medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, and lost benefits. In many cases, a Jones Act claim can be settled out of court. In other circumstances, it may be necessary to proceed to a trial. In either option, an attorney can help. Speak to a maritime injury attorney by calling 504-680-4100 or 866-938-6113.

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