Shrimp Boat Injuries – Drum and Cathead Winch Entanglements
According to a 2011 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), commercial fishermen have the highest occupational fatality rate in the nation. In 2011, the fatality rate for these workers was nearly 35 times higher than the fatality rate of all workers in the United States. From the period 2000-2009 there were 504 deaths in the U.S. fishing industry – 51 percent of these deaths were drownings from vessels sinking, 30 percent were due to falls overboard and 10 percent were a result of onboard injuries, such as workers becoming entangled in equipment and machinery. In its report, the CDC notes that the majority of fatalities resulting from onboard injuries and entanglements take place in the Gulf of Mexico.
In an effort to further examine entanglement injuries and deaths in the commercial fishing industry in this report, the CDC gathered data from its Commercial Fishing Incident Database and the U.S. Coast Guard. From 2000-2011 there were eight winch entanglement fatalities and 27 winch entanglement injuries in the Southern shrimp fleet which operates in eight states in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic. These fatalities and injuries involved winch drums, capstan winch, and winch catheads, with winch drum entanglements having a higher risk of fatality than winch catheads.
According to the CDC report, fatalities due to winch entanglements could be connected to the following factors:
- Lack of guards on winches or catheads
- Workers wearing loose clothing
- Fishermen working by themselves
- A need for better cable winding guides
In addition to these elements, the CDC notes that providing deckhands with appropriate training in first aid and emergency procedures might work to reduce the severity of injuries when a drum or cathead winch entanglement occurs.
We Represent Captains and Crew Members Injured in All Types of Shrimp Boat Accidents
Along with winch and cathead accidents, many other types of accidents can leave shrimp boat captains and crew members with serious—and in many cases life-threatening—injuries. Our firm handles cases involving all types of shrimp boat accidents, including:
- Shrimp Net Accidents – Shrimp nets present several risks for deckhands and other crew members onboard shrimp boats. Accidents can occur when crew members get caught in nets on deck or when they get pulled overboard with nets being deployed into the water.
- Shrimp Boat Equipment Accidents – Equipment failures, inadequate maintenance, lack of training, and a variety of other issues can lead to dangerous accidents onboard shrimp boats. This includes everything from engine failures to trawler malfunctions.
- Slips and Falls on Shrimp Boats – Shrimp boat decks are almost constantly wet, and this can make for a dangerous work environment. Slip and fall accidents are extremely common on shrimp boats. Oftentimes, deckhands will hit their heads or other body parts when they fall because they are working in such close quarters to shrimping equipment, freezers, and other hard objects.
- Shrimp Processing and Freezer Accidents – Onboard shrimp processing operations can also be extremely dangerous for workers. Crew members often get their hands and arms caught in processing equipment, and getting caught in or stuck by a freezer can potentially be a life-threatening scenario.
- Shrimp Boat Disasters – When shrimp boats encounter hazardous conditions on the water, captains and crew members can face life-of-death ordeals. Taking on water and capsizing are very real risks for shrimp boats on high seas; and, if the Coast Guard cannot get to a distressed shrimp boat in time, the consequences can be devastating.
Common Injuries in Shrimp Boat Accidents
These and other accidents can lead to all types of injuries for deckhands and others onboard. Along with broken bones, soft tissue injuries and lacerations, we also represent shrimp boat captains and crew members who have suffered injuries including:
- Crush Injuries – Crush injuries commonly occur on shrimp boats when crew members get their hands and arms caught in winches and processing equipment, or when they get caught in between shifting freezers or other machinery.
- Hypothermia – When working in cold weather and cold waters, hypothermia is a very real risk for shrimp boat crew members.
- Near-Drowning Injuries – When shrimp boat captains and crew members fall overboard but are lucky enough to survive, they can still suffer serious internal injuries caused by their near-drownings.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) – As noted above, falls on shrimp boats present risks for concussions and other TBI due to the fact that deckhands and others will often hit their heads on objects onboard. Shrimp boat captains and crew members can suffer TBI in other types of accidents as well.
Tragically, some shrimp boat accidents are fatal. If you have lost a loved one in a shrimp boat accident, you may have a wrongful death claim, and we strongly encourage you to speak with a lawyer at Willis Law Firm about your legal rights.
Contact a Shrimp Boat Accident Attorney
Using a winch drum, anchor winch, capstan winch, or cathead hoist on a fishing boat, barge, tug or vessel can be dangerous. If you have been hurt in a winch-related entanglement or have been injured in any other type of shrimp boat accident, such as a slip-on deck, a fall from a ladder, worn our equipment or any other hazardous condition, you should discuss your situation with an experienced maritime attorney as quickly as possible. Not only are your injuries painful, they may also keep you off of the job for a long period of time and can even prevent you from ever returning to your prior work.
It is important to know that there are numerous federal and state laws that give shrimp boat workers the legal right to receive financial compensation when they are injured on the job. While these laws are designed to protect vulnerable and injured workers, they are complicated and are best handled by a skilled attorney who has extensive experience handling boating and other maritime accident cases.
For more than 40 years the Willis Law Firm has been helping injured shrimp boat workers, maritime workers, crew members, and other employees collect the financial compensation that they need to recover from serious work-related injuries. We offer free confidential consultations and provide skilled legal representation to injured maritime workers nationwide. Contact us online or call us today at 1-800-468-4878.