According to the U.S. Coast Guard, a fisherman was rescued from the fishing vessel JACKPOT about 20 miles west of Gray’s Harbor, Washington on Saturday, August 24, 2013. The crew member was injured when a block came apart and struck the crew member in the head. After being struck in the head, the crew member reportedly stopped breathing and a federal marine observer performed CPR on the vessel. The crew member began breathing again after CPR was administered but remained unconscious. A U.S. Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter crew evacuated the fisherman off the vessel and he was transported by air to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Oregon for emergency evaluation and treatment.
Members of fishing vessel crews are covered by the federal Jones Act and general maritime law for injuries at work. Under general maritime law, the failure of a piece of the vessel’s equipment can render a vessel unseaworthy. Similarly, under the federal Jones Act, it may be negligence to use improper or defective equipment. Here, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that the block came apart and struck the crew member. The reported details are sparse. However, if the block came apart because it was defective, broken, or otherwise failed because it was overloaded, that would likely render the block unseaworthy and/or the employer negligent. The crew member may be able to collect damages for lost wages, pain, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life caused by the incident. Head injuries can have serous life-long consequences. Because of the serious nature of these types of injuries, it is important that an early investigation is undertaken to determine the cause of the incident and preserve any important evidence, including physical evidence involved in the injury and the testimony of witnesses on deck when the incident occurred.