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On-deck injuries are common for commercial fishermen

Many commercial fishermen in Louisiana have been around the sea and fishing boats all their lives and know how dangerous an occupation fishing can be.

Poor weather conditions might be at fault for incidents in which commercial fishermen suffer injuries while at sea, but on-deck slip-and-fall accidents are the primary cause of non-fatal injuries.

Surprising statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on-deck accidents account for 12 percent of all commercial fishing fatalities and the most non-fatal injuries requiring hospitalization. In second place is the category of man-overboard fatalities, especially due to unwitnessed falls.

Issues on deck

A common problem onboard a commercial fishing vessel is a slippery deck due to fish slime, oil, leaks or harsh weather conditions. There may also be hazardous conditions, such as uneven surfaces, debris on walkways or improperly stowed equipment.


A fall taken on a slippery deck or because an obstacle was in the way can result in any kind of injury from a simple bruise to serious head trauma. Commercial fishermen may suffer spinal cord injuries, broken bones, nerve damage or internal injuries that might go undetected for days until the vessel returns to port and the victim can visit a doctor.

How the Jones Act fits in

Originally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act provides commercial fishermen who sustain an injury on the job with compensation. The employer must provide a sick or injured seaman with “maintenance and cure,” which means basic living expenses as well as medical care. In filing a negligence claim, there are three steps to eligibility:

  •         The plaintiff must be a seaman
  •         The seaman must be able to prove that the defendant was negligent
  •         The negligence of the defendant led to the injuries the fisherman sustained

A commercial fisherman can suffer an injury in many ways, including simply falling on a slippery deck. Fortunately, the Jones Act is available to provide for medical care and financial support.


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