Shrimp boats are a highly specialized form of fishing vessel, so shrimp boat accidents share much in common with incidents that happen on fishing boats of other types. In most cases, shrimping is accomplished on a shrimp trawler that used specialized equipment to pull large nets along as the boat moves.

As is the case with fishing vessels, shrimp trawlers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Shrimpers, as they are commonly referred to, operate in a wide variety of environments, including both cold and warm water. The Gulf of Mexico is a particularly important region for shrimpers, but it’s not the only area in the United States to see commercial shrimping activity.

Commercial fishing of any variety is an exceptionally hazardous occupation, and shrimping is no exception. Shrimp boat accidents can lead to permanent and life-threatening injuries. Minimizing the occurrence and the severity of shrimp boat accidents is the responsibility of everyone on board a vessel.

Common Types of Shrimp Boat Accidents

Shrimp boat accidents can occur for a multitude of reasons, including negligence, poor training, or failing equipment. Because the work itself is so hazardous, even small safety failures can lead to significant accidents. Some of the most common types of shrimp boat accidents include the following:

  • Shrimp Boat Accidents
    Vessel disaster
    — Almost half of all fishing vessel accidents (and this includes shrimpers) are due to what is known as a vessel disaster. This is an occurrence in which the shrimper has encountered a situation so hazardous that the ship is in danger or in the process of sinking.
  • Accidents involving netting – Trawlers use massive nets to catch the most shrimp possible for the size of the vessel. These nets are constantly in the process of being deployed, trawled, and retracted. Shrimp boat accidents involving this netting can see seamen pulled overboard.
  • Slips and falls – The decks of shrimp boats can be quite wet and, therefore, slick. Accidental slips and falls are among the most common incidents reported on shrimping boats. In some cases, those slips can be minor. In other cases, a slip and fall could result in a fall overboard and life threatening injuries.
  • Factory accidents – Many shrimp trawlers have a built-in factory below decks designed to process (and in many cases, freeze) shrimp as quickly as possible in order to preserve freshness. Shrimp boat accidents involving this factory machinery are not uncommon; a factory is a hazardous enough environment, but a factory at sea is even more dangerous.
  • Accidents involving heavy machinery – From the engines, to the winches controlling the fishing nets, accidents involving heavy machinery are relatively common on shrimpers. Accidents can occur when machinery breaks down or is not properly maintained. Additionally, if crew members don’t have sufficient training, heavy machinery can become exceptionally dangerous.

Common Injuries Due to Shrimp Boat Accidents

Accidents on shrimpers can be unpredictable. That’s true whether the cause is inclement weather or a slippery deck. The unpredictable nature of these accidents can sometimes heighten the danger involved, increasing the severity of common injuries due to lack of medical attention. That’s why the U.S. Coast Guard requires commercial fishing boats with more than two people on board must have at least one person certified in first aid and one person certified in CPR.

Injuries can and do happen on shrimpers. Some of the most common shrimp boat injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injury – A TBI is common in cases where the head takes a blunt force trauma, such as in a fall or in the case of falling debris.
  • Hypothermia – Drowning is not the only danger when a seaman falls overboard, though it may be the most life-threatening. Hypothermia due to cold water can quickly become perilous.
  • Crushing injuries – Crushing injuries are often a result of mechanical accidents, or accidents involving heavy machinery.
  • Drowning – In any situation in which the vessel encounters a disaster or a seaman falls overboard, drowning is a very real danger.

Understanding Your Rights After a Shrimp Boat Accidents

If you’ve been seriously injured in a shrimp boat accident, you might be wondering what to do next and how to file a claim for compensation. Under the Jones Act, injured seamen are entitled to Maintenance and Cure no matter what caused the accident.

In cases where negligence, equipment failure, or other causes might have contributed to your injury, you may be entitled to more. The attorneys at Montagna Maritime Law can assess your case — a service we offer for free — and help guide you through the legal process. We’ve helped protect the rights of many seamen who have suffered serious and often life-changing injuries. We’re on your side so you can focus on your health and your family.