Last Monday, on October 22, 2018 at roughly 9:55AM PST, US Coast Guard watchstanders stationed in North Bend, OR were notified by crew aboard Arctic Storm — a commercial fishing boat — that one of their crew members, a 64-year-old man, sustained serious injuries due to a loose crane hook. According to reports, the injured crew member suffered blunt force trauma when the loose crane hook swung and collided with his face.
The on-duty flight surgeon at North Bend called for an immediate medevac rescue. Coast Guard watchstanders stationed in Chetco River subsequently launched a Motor Life Boat to Arctic Storm to perform the medevac. At the time, Arctic Storm was located just 25 miles from Brookings, OR.
Coast Guard rescuers aboard the Motor Life Boat were able to stabilize the injured crew member and transport him to shore, where he was brought under the care of shoreside emergency medical services personnel. Presently, his condition is unknown.
We are saddened to hear about the crew member’s injuries in the present case. Though it is not yet clear how the crane hook got loose and caused harm, it’s likely due to negligence on the part of other crew members (or the vessel operator). Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crane hook accident, the injured crew member may be entitled to bring an action against their employer and obtain significant compensation.
Pursuant to US maritime law, the shipowner/employer has a duty to provide a crewmember with a reasonably safe place to work and a seaworthy vessel. This includes a duty to provide a proper and fit crew which is properly trained, instructed and supervised. The shipowner is also required to provide adequate and proper rules and regulations to ensure the safety and well-being of the employees and crew.
If a crewmember is injured or becomes ill during the course and scope of his employment, he is entitled to receive maintenance and cure. Cure is prompt, adequate and sufficient medical care and maintenance a stipend or room and board until the crewmember is declared to be at maximum medical improvement. Failure to provide maintenance and cure can lead to additional claims. Fortunately it appears that the vessel acted promptly in evacuating the crewmember from the vessel.
Broad Range of Negligence Can Give Rise to a Crane Hook Injury
Crane hook injuries are frequently associated with negligence. In the commercial fishing boat context — as in the present case — the crane hook may have come loose and collided with the crew member at-issue due to inadequate maintenance of the crane, or a failure to coordinate manipulation of the crane hook.
For example, if one of the crew members was manipulating the crane hook around the deck of the ship, but failed to recognize the presence of the 64-year-old crew member, then the risk of harm would have been quite substantial. Similarly, if the crane was poorly maintained (i.e., too long between inspections, or the crew had not been trained to perform comprehensive inspections), then the hook could have come loose and swung at the crew member at-issue.
Fishing boat operators — among other vessel operators — can minimize the risk of a crane hook injury by implementing various safety protocols: they can train crew members to properly inspect the crane machinery and correct any and all discovered defects, provide adequate supervision to crew members during crane use so as to ensure proper communication and coordination, and more.
We Can Help
If you or a loved one has been harmed due to a loose crane hook — or in some other incident involving a crane hook — then you may be entitled to significant damages as compensation for your losses. Seamen who serve on US-based vessels (including foreign seamen) may bring an action against their employer under the Jones Act, which allows them to secure damages for negligence, such as a failure to properly maintain a crane hook or a failure to adequately supervise or instruct crew members. Damages may include pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, lost benefits, disfigurement, and more.
Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our attorneys have extensive experience representing injured seamen in disputes against their employer. We are recognized leaders in the field of maritime law, and have a deep understanding of the challenges typical of such litigation. Over the years, our insights have helped us to successfully recover over $200 million in compensation through favorable verdicts and settlements (on behalf of injured seamen and other clients).
If you’d like to speak further about your maritime injury claims — whether or not the Jones Act is applicable — then we encourage you to get in touch. Contact us to request an appointment with one of our experienced maritime lawyers.