Lost Wages for Injured Commercial Fisherman

Lost Wages for Injured Commerical Fishermen and Fish Processors
Seattle Maritime Injury and Jones Act Lawyer – 1-800-621-1091

Seattle maritime injury lawyers representing injured commercial fishermen and fish processors recover lost wages and compensation for injuries. For 30 years, Jones Act lawyer James Beard has been helping injured commercial fishermen and fish processors recover damages for lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses.

Following an injury accident to a crewman aboard a fish processing a vessel or commercial fishing vessel, the first question many crewmen have is “What are my rights to obtain the wages I am losing because of my injuries?” Obtaining lost wages for injured crewmen is governed by interrelated Federal maritime laws. If you have suffered a significant injury, it is recommended that you consult with an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible following your injury to discuss your claim. The general principles that govern fishermen’s lost wage claims are set forth below:

Earned Wages: A crewman who is injured while working aboard a ship, tug, commercial fishing vessel, or fish processor is entitled to recover all of the wages they had earned prior to the injury. These wages must be paid, regardless of whose fault your injuries may have been. Failure to pay earned wages to a crewman may result in penalty wages or imposition of other penalties.

Unearned Wages Until the End of the Voyage: When a crewman’s injuries prevent the crewman from completing his employment contract aboard the vessel, the crewman is entitled to the wages he would have earned had he fully completed the contract. These wages are referred to as “unearned” wages. If a crewman’s contract was for a fishing season and he is hurt on the first day of the season, he is entitled to the earnings he would have made for the entire season (assuming the seaman’s injuries prevented him from returning to work during the fishing season). Similarly, if the same crewman were injured with only ten days left in the fishing season, he would be entitled to the wages he earned before his injury and the ten days of wages he would have earned had he completed the season. Some maritime employers utilize trip to trip contracts to attempt to avoid paying the obligation to pay unearned wages. You do not have to prove fault or negligence to recover earned or unearned wages; these wages are a no fault remedy.

Maintenance: When an injury prevents a crewman, commercial fisherman or fish processor from being able to continue their normal job duties aboard their vessel, the crewman is entitled to receive “maintenance” payments. Maintenance is a daily living allowance paid to a crewman while he is recovering from his injuries and should be paid until the crewman has reached maximum medical improvement. There are few exceptions to the employer’s obligation to pay injured crewmen maintenance payments.

The rate of maintenance is determined on a case-by-case basis and is based upon the injured crewman’s reasonable living expenses. When determining a rate of maintenance, consideration should be given to the cost of reasonable housing, food, and the seaman’s basic utilities. Maintenance is a limited remedy; it only provides minimal subsistence benefits to the injured seaman and does not cover the living costs of his family. Many normal household expenses like insurance, car payments, cable and phone are not usually part of the maintenance computation. In the Pacific Northwest, maintenance rates run in the range of $35-50 per day. Contractual rates of maintenance are usually nonbinding on the injured crewman. Maintenance payments are a no fault remedy under Federal general maritime law. Maintenance is typically paid every two weeks or 30 days.

Lost Past and Future Wages Under the Jones Act and Unseaworthiness Doctrine: Injured commercial fishermen and fish processors are entitled to make claims for lost wages under the Jones Act and the unseaworthiness doctrines. If the seaman can prove he was injured as a result of the negligence of his employer or the unseaworthiness of his vessel, the seaman is entitled to claim compensation for the past and future lost wages he has suffered as a result of his shipboard injury, including lost future wage earning capacity. The vessel owner and crewman’s employer are not obligated to pay lost wages under the Jones Act and the unseaworthiness doctrine as those losses are incurred. To recover your lost wages under the Jones Act and unseaworthiness doctrine usually requires a settlement of your wage claim or a lawsuit being filed in court to recover these damages.

Seriously, injured seamen should consult with an experienced maritime injury lawyer to discuss filing a Jones Act and unseaworthiness lawsuit for their lost wages. Never sign a release of any wage or personal injury claim without consulting with an experienced maritime injury lawyer.

Compensation For Maritime Personal Injuries: Injured commercial fishermen and fish processors are entitled under Federal maritime law to claim money damages to compensate them for their personal injuries in addition to their claims for lost wages. Under the Jones Act and the unseaworthiness doctrines, a commercial fisherman or fish processor who is injured through negligence or unseaworthiness is entitled to lost wages, lost wage earning capacity, pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical expenses, loss of household services, and other losses.

Hiring a Maritime Injury Lawyer: Maritime injury lawyers protect the rights of injured commercial fishermen and fish processors. They understand the complex Federal maritime laws that govern seamen injury and wage claims. Typically, maritime injury lawyers do not charge attorney fees for recovering undisputed maintenance, cure and unearned wages when those claims are joined with a Jones Act negligence and unseaworthiness claim for personal injury, lost future wages, and unearned wages.

For his entire legal career, maritime Injury lawyer James Beard has been helping injured commercial fishermen recover compensation for lost wages, personal injuries, and medical expenses. Beard works to get his clients fair compensation under Federal maritime law. You can hire a maritime injury lawyer on a contingency fee basis. Under a contingency fee agreement, you owe the lawyer no fees unless he successfully recovers damages in your case. For a free initial consultation to discuss your injury and wage claims, contact Beard at 1-800-621-1091.