Shrimp Boat Accident Attorneys

Accidents & Injuries in Commercial Shrimping

The Gulf of Mexico is a bustling hub for shrimping, with states like Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas being central to this maritime sector. A significant portion of America’s shrimp supply is sourced from these waters, making shrimp boats a common sight in the region. However, working in the shrimping industry is not without its risks.

Regarded as one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States, shrimping poses numerous dangers due to the physically demanding and often perilous nature of the work. Storms, rough seas, and equipment like winches and nets can pose risks to crews when shipowners and operators fail to uphold safety standards or maintain seaworthy vessels

At Arnold & Itkin, we help shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico and nationwide after serious accidents and injuries, helping them seek the support they need to put their lives back on track. Our shrimp boat accident lawyers also help families who have lost loved ones at sea. With our experience and track record, we are uniquely qualified to handle these claims. 

Call (888) 346-5024 to discuss your shrimping accident case. Your consultation is free!

The Challenges of Commercial Shrimping

Commercial shrimp boats are specifically designed for shrimp harvesting, outfitted with nets, trawls, and various gear to effectively capture shrimp. This primarily involves trawling, where nets are dragged along the ocean floor to collect shrimp. These nets often include special bycatch reduction devices made to minimize the capture of other marine life. 

Once a catch is made, it's brought onto the deck for sorting—shrimp are separated for processing and sale, while bycatch is usually released back into the sea. On larger vessels, shrimp can be processed and frozen immediately to preserve freshness, whereas smaller boats typically transport their catch back to shore for processing, ensuring the shrimp remains fresh until it reaches the market.

Shrimping is labor-intensive, involving long hours of hauling in nets, sorting catches, and maintaining equipment. Shrimping boats often operate in challenging weather conditions. Workers must contend with extreme heat and cold, humidity, and rough seas, making the job physically taxing and dangerous—when safety standards are not implemented to the fullest extent

Shrimping expeditions can last from a few days to several weeks, depending on the size of the vessel and the scope of the operation. Crew members spend long periods away from home, living and working on the boat. The combination of heavy machinery, slippery decks, and unpredictable ocean conditions can lead to accidents and injuries. Proper safety training and equipment are essential. Shrimping boats must also adhere to various environmental regulations and fishing laws, including limits on bycatch, fishing seasons, and areas where they can legally operate.

Shrimp Boat Accidents & Injuries

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), shrimping accounted for 51% of commercial fishermen fatalities in the Gulf of Mexico from 2000-2019. Drowning was the most common cause of death, accounting for 82% of commercial fishing fatalities. 

Workers in commercial shrimping face a variety of risks, including, but not limited to:

  • Deck Accidents: The wet and slippery conditions on shrimp boats can lead to falls and other deck-related accidents. They can also lead to falls overboard, where workers are at risk of drowning or hypothermia.
  • Equipment-Related Injuries: Handling heavy and complex fishing equipment and machinery can result in injuries ranging from minor cuts to severe trauma. Winches, ropes, and nets pose particular risks to commercial shrimp boat workers, who may experience crush injuries or traumatic amputation if they are caught in or struck by equipment.
  • Head Injuries: Falling objects, equipment malfunctions, or slip and fall accidents on commercial shrimp boats can cause serious head injuries, which can cause concussions, brain damage, or even death.
  • Weather-Related Hazards: Shrimp boats often operate in challenging weather, increasing the risk of accidents. A vessel may capsize or sink if weather warnings are ignored or the vessel is handled improperly in a storm. 
  • Drowning and Near-Drowning Incidents: Given the nature of the work, there is always a risk of falling overboard and drowning. Rough seas, slippery decks, and equipment accidents may result in a man overboard incident.

Rights of Injured Shrimp Boat Workers

Workers on commercial shrimping vessels are most likely covered by the Jones Act. This allows for the recovery of compensation for injuries caused by the negligence of the injured seaman’s employer or vessel owner. A claim of unseaworthiness may also be filed against the shipowner, if the shrimping vessel was not fit for its intended purpose. For families who have lost loved ones in shrimp boat accidents, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) may apply. 

Understanding which maritime laws apply to your unique situation is one of the first steps toward recovery. Arnold & Itkin has significant experience in maritime law and has represented seamen across the country. We are here to offer our experienced insight and representation if you or someone you love has been injured while working on a shrimp boat.

Contact a shrimp boat accident lawyer today and find out how Arnold & Itkin can help you.

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