Commercial fishing vessels are among the most dangerous workplaces in the U.S. In fact, the CDC reports that workers in the commercial fishing industry have a mortality rate that is 35 percent higher than that of all other workers in the United States. Unpredictable weather, powerful machinery, heavy loads, exposure to the elements, and distance from medical care facilities all increase the risk of serious injury.
One of the most hazardous pieces of equipment which makes work conditions even more dangerous is a winch.
If you or a loved one has suffered loss or damage from a winch injury or entanglement, you may be entitled to compensation. As leading Gulf Coast maritime lawyers, the passionate team at Lapeze & Johns stands ready to help you with any questions you may have about your case. Contact us today at (713) 739-1010 for a free initial evaluation.
To help you get started, this post provides a useful overview of winch-related injuries.
How Winch Injuries Occur
According to the CDC, approximately 74 percent of winch-related injuries between 2000-2011 occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. As Gulf Coast maritime lawyers, we, unfortunately, know this statistic to be true.
The most common winch injury involves entanglement with winch cables that can sever limbs or even lead to death. Trawl and deck winches can also snap and propel seamen off the vessel or strike them with deadly blows. The serious nature of winch injuries makes them one of the most important issues for vessel owners to address.
Ways to Avoid Winch Injuries and Entanglement
Vessel owners should take every precaution to make their boats as safe as possible. Some of the steps they can take to avoid winch injuries and entanglement include:
- Guarding the winch drum and cathead
- Requiring seamen to work in pairs
- Training seamen in first aid
- Requiring tight-fitting clothes that will not get caught in the winch
However, even if vessel owners follow these precautions, accidents can still happen.
Compensation for Winch Injuries
According to the Jones Act, seamen on commercial fishing vessels may receive “maintenance and cure” when they are injured on the job. This provision in the act entitles maritime workers to both medical expenses and a living allowance throughout the recovery process.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may also seek compensation for lost wages, rehabilitation, mental suffering, and loss of future earnings.
This last consideration is especially relevant to winch injuries because of the high rate of dismemberment that occurs from them. If you lose a leg or arm, your ability to resume your work on a fishing vessel may be significantly reduced or lost altogether. You should be compensated accordingly for this loss of future earnings.
Hurt in a winch accident? Contact the Houston maritime lawyers at Lapeze & Johns.
For over two decades, Houston lawyers Christopher Johns and Keith Lapeze have been successfully litigating in the complex world of maritime law. They are passionate about defending maritime workers’ rights and have the resources and knowledge to provide the representation you deserve.
If you or a loved one has suffered from a winch injury, contact us today at (713) 739-1010 today for your free consultation.