On November 9, the U.S. Coast Guard received a request for a medevac from F/V BLUE NORTH, a Seattle-based fishing company, when a 41-year-old crew member sustained a neck injury while working on the vessel. Neck and spinal injuries can be serious and can lead to permanent disabilities. Due to the nature of the injury, a U.S. Coast Guard flight surgeon recommended an emergency medevac from the vessel to a trauma center. At the time of the incident, the vessel was approximately 285 miles northwest of St. Paul in the Bering Sea and steamed toward shore to meet the helicopter. Taking off from Air Station Kodiak, a Jayhawk helicopter flew to Cold Bay to hoist the injured fisherman off the fishing vessel and the crew member was transported to the hospital for emergency evaluation and treatment.
At this point, there are no details about the cause of the crew member’s injury. Fishermen injured on fishing vessels are entitled to coverage under the federal Jones Act, which covers seamen, fishermen, and other maritime workers injured on boats and ships. Under the Jones Act, an injured fisherman may be entitled to lost wages and damages for pain, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life.
If you are injured on a fishing vessel, it is important that you notify your employer of the injury and fill out an incident report. In the report, you should describe exactly how you were injured, what unsafe condition contributed to your injury, and provide the names of all witnesses that were present at the scene of your injury. It is important that you obtain prompt medical attention following an injury. You have the right to select your own medical providers and do not have to go to doctors selected by the fishing company. While you receive medical treatment for your injuries, the company has an obligation to pay you a daily stipend called “maintenance” to cover your room-and-board expenses on land. The company is also obligated to pay for all medical expenses related to your injury or illness that are designed to improve your condition.