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Sometimes the Fish Wins: Why Seamen Should Prepare for the Unexpected

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Every fisherman has a tale about the one that got away, but this fish almost took the crew with him.

You may have seen the pictures on Facebook. Sport fishermen off the coast of Panama caught a black marlin. The marlin didn’t go quietly. Like many fish, it fought back. The pictures make it look like the marlin sank the ship and then did a victory dance. But, that’s a fish tale.

The real story is just as unlikely. The captain was putting the boat in reverse to back down on the fish when he slipped and fell. His foot hit the throttle and pushed the vessel into full reverse. The boat began to take on water. The boat capsized taking the crew with it. Fortunately, all the crewmembers were rescued and no injuries were reported.

The sea is an inherently unsafe workplace. Seamen are at the mercy of the wind, water, weather and, sometimes, fish. But, this is no excuse for a vessel to be unsafe. Vessel owners must do their best to provide a safe and seaworthy work environment. In fact, a seaman has a right to expect a safe workplace.

Jones Act Protecting Seamen

The Jones Act allows injured seamen to sue when an injury is caused by unseaworthiness or employer negligence. Here’s an example. Most vessels have a non-slip coating on the deck, but the nonstick coating can wear out over time. If a deckhand slips because the deck has an unsafe surface, he can hold his employer liable for his broken leg because the employer allowed an unsafe condition to exist aboard the ship. 

Look through our website to learn more about your Jones Act rights, including the right to Maintenance and Cure. Knowing your rights beforehand will help protect you if you’re ever injured. If you have any questions, we’ll be happy to help. Contact The Turley Law Firm at 866-705-4617.

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