For two men, an April salmon-fishing trip off the coast of California turned into a nightmare when their vessel ran aground. Luckily, both men survived the fishing accident, and their story now serves as a reminder about the dangers of boating while fatigued.
A skipper and his lone crewman set out in a 58-year-old, wooden hulled fishing vessel. When they started having steering troubles, the skipper piloted the vessel into a sheltered cove, and they made necessary repairs. Then, while en route to the next fuel dock, the steering problems started back up. The men decided to push on and reached the fuel dock around 1 p.m. the next day, where they again dealt with the steering issue. Around 6:30 p.m., they left the fuel dock.
Beginning to feel fatigued, they decided the skipper would take first watch. After setting the autopilot, he settled into his captain’s chair. Both men were later jarred awake when the vessel ran aground. After attempts to back the boat out proved unsuccessful, they decided to abandon ship. All they could do was watch as waves continued to batter the vessel until the hull eventually broke apart a few hours later.
An investigation revealed extreme fatigue had caused the skipper to fall asleep at the helm. Unfortunately, the autopilot was unable to compensate for the tides, winds and local currents.
Maritime employers need to have policies in place that protect workers from fatigue-related accidents, whether that means having a sufficient number of crewmembers to enable workers to rest between watches or limiting the number of hours for crew on deck. When a worker is injured or killed because of employer negligence or a vessel’s unseaworthiness, a maritime attorney protects the worker’s rights and the rights of his or her family.
Is fatigue to blame for the maritime accident that caused your injuries? Contact a Boston maritime attorney today to learn about your legal rights.
Latti & Anderson LLP –Boston maritime trial lawyers