The maritime industry is hugely important for both Alaska as a whole and for the coastal and largest city of Anchorage. Many residents here rely on the industry, either for their own jobs or for the jobs of those family members who support them. From harbor and port workers, longshoremen, and cruise ship crew members, to the many people involved in the local commercial fishing industry, maritime jobs are a big deal here.
If you live in or around Anchorage and work on a ship or in a harbor, or in some other way contribute to maritime work, you are covered by several federal laws that can protect you in the event you get hurt or sick on the job. Whether you get a virus from your cruise ship job, are injured by crabbing equipment or you get hit by a truck in a crowded port area, you have rights to compensation for your injuries and you can fight if you are denied that compensation. Let an experienced Anchorage maritime lawyer help you.
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The Dangers of Anchorage Maritime Jobs
There are many jobs in the maritime industry in Anchorage that are full of daily hazards. Perhaps the most dangerous is commercial fishing and crabbing. If you work on a commercial fishing or crabbing boat, you take serious risks every time you go out on the water. You face long, grueling hours, days, and weeks of work out on rough seas with bitterly cold weather. Falling overboard and drowning or succumbing to hypothermia is a ever-present risk.
Harbor workers and other kinds of workers aboard ships also face daily risks from working with heavy equipment, trip and fall hazards, bad weather, rough water, and negligence. The latter may include inadequate training, poor safety training, missing safety equipment, or machinery, equipment, and electronics that are not maintained or repaired as needed. Any of these things can lead to accidents on the job that can cause injuries and even deaths.
Protection under the Jones Act
If you work as a seaman and your injury or sickness was at least in part caused by an employer’s negligence, you are protected by the Jones Act and have a right to file a claim for compensation. The Jones Act can help you get money to pay for your current and future medical bills, for lost wages and lost future earnings, and for more intangible expenses like the pain and suffering you endured because of the accident you experienced.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
Not all workers in the maritime industry are classified as seamen, the only workers to be covered under the Jones Act, which is why the LHWCA exists. It extends rights to harbor workers, longshoremen, and other workers involved in the industry not working on ships for a significant portion of their days. You may qualify for compensation under the LHWCA if you are injured or get sick on the job, regardless of negligence. This law acts like a workers’ compensation program, so you don’t have to find blame anywhere; you only have to make a claim.
The Death on the High Seas Act
Working in the maritime industry, especially in the waters off of Anchorage and the rest of Alaska, is highly dangerous. This is one of the most dangerous industries there is and is conducted in some of the world’s most dangerous waters. If you work here, especially as a commercial fisherman, you have a real chance of actually dying on the job. If you are out to sea, at least three nautical miles from the coast, and you experience a fatal accident, your loved ones will be bereft, but they can also collect benefits. The Death on the High Seas Act is designed to provide benefits and compensation for the dependent loved ones of those who die on the job out at sea. Your loved ones can get money for your lost wages, your funeral expenses, and pain and suffering.
The Alaska Fisherman’s Fund
Because the work of commercial fishing around Anchorage and Alaska is so dangerous, the state has set up a special fund that can help injured commercial fishermen or their loved ones if they die on the job. The fund pays out up to $10,000 to cover lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses associated with the illness or injuries incurred in an accident on the job. That money can also go to dependents of deceased fishermen, but the fund is meant only for those workers who have already exhausted other sources of public funding and insurance payouts.
Finding an Anchorage Maritime Lawyer
If you live and work in the maritime industry of Anchorage you can find experienced maritime lawyers who are prepared to help you fight for benefits if your job causes you to get hurt or sick. The various maritime laws that cover you and your industry can be confusing if you have not studied the law extensively. These lawyers have, and they specialized in maritime laws so they can help people like you.
To make sure you correctly determine which law applies to you, which funds you qualify for, and how to make a claim, rely on the expert advice of a good lawyer. This professional can also help you make deadlines and can represent you in court or in arbitration if your battle goes that far. Most of all, a lawyer will give you your best chance of getting the most money out of your claim.