Commercial fisherman who suffer serious injuries and are unable to work are entitled to make claims for their lost wages under Federal maritime law. Recovering lost wages for commercial fisherman involves a thorough understanding of complex maritime laws. The maritime injury lawyers at Johnson Beard & Trueb have been helping injured fisherman recover lost wages for over thirty years. Contact our lawyers in Anchorage to learn more about your rights to recover lost wages and compensation for your injuries.
The Federal General Maritime Law provides protection and benefits to commercial fisherman injured while working aboard fishing vessels. There are three basic overlapping laws relating to compensation for lost wages to injured fisherman: (1) maintenance; (2) unearned wages; (3) Jones Act claims for lost past and future lost wages.
Every commercial fishing vessel over 20 gross tons is required to have a written contract of employment describing the terms and duration of a crewman’s employment. An injured crewman is entitled to receive full wages to the end of the voyage on which he was injured.
When a crewman is injured in the middle of a contract and unable to complete the term of his contract, the vessel owner must pay the full amount of the contract as well as any wages earned by the crewman prior to his injury. Where a crewman is employed for a seasonal fishery, the contract may provide for payment of full wages to the crewman when the crewman is injured midseason and unable to complete the fishing season. These lost contractual wages are commonly referred to as “unearned wages”. Many vessel owners attempt to draft employment contracts to limit their exposure to paying fair lost wages to injured crewman. Unearned wage payments should be paid at the same time you would have received the wages had you continued working aboard the vessel and not been injured.
While an injured crewman is recovering from his injuries and unable to work as a fisherman, the vessel must also pay the crewman a daily living allowance called “maintenance”. Maintenance payments are benefits designed to pay for an injured crewman’s basic living expenses, including housing and food. There is no specific schedule or laws setting the daily maintenance rate. Your maintenance rate will depend upon your living circumstances and the cost of living in the area where you live. Daily maintenance rates in Alaska now range at approximately $60-75 dollars a day. You do not have to prove fault of the vessel to recover maintenance. Maintenance may not be reduced for comparative fault. Maintenance is typically paid on a twice a month basis.
If you are injured as a result of vessel negligence or the negligence of a fellow crewman you may make claims under the Jones Act for all of your past lost wages and future lost wages. This includes claims for the lost future earning capacity where the injured crewman is unable to return to his pre-injury wage earning capacity. Claims for future lost wage claims under the Jones Act can result in payment of substantial damages to compensate you for the economic losses you will suffer as a result of your injuries over the rest of your life.
The maritime lawyers at Johnson Beard & Trueb help Alaska fisherman recover compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses. They have handled over a thousand maritime injury claims and recovered millions of dollars in compensation for their clients located through out the United States. Call us today for a free consultation, toll free at 1-888-277-0661 or 1-907-277-0161.