Alaska Fishermen's Fund
The Alaska Fishermen's Fund provides very limited benefits to commercial fishermen injured in Alaska. If you are an injured commercial fisherman in Alaska, the first thing to know is that you do not have to seek benefits from the Alaska Fishermen's Fund. Your employer and the owner of the vessel owe you a duty under federal maritime law to pay you maintenance and cure. This means your employer is responsible for paying all of your reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to injuries or illnesses arising while working aboard an Alaska commercial fishing vessel. Additionally, under the Jones Act, a commercial fisherman may be entitled to compensatory damages for injuries caused by the negligence of their employer.
Has the owner of your vessel or your employer referred you to the Alaska Fisherman's fund? Learn about your rights to compensation under maritime law and the Jones Act. Contact the Seattle maritime injury lawyers at Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC for a free initial consultation at 1-866-974-9633.
Any time your employer refers you to the Alaska Fishermen's Fund for payment of your medical expenses or to compensate you for your injuries, you should have serious questions about why your employer is attempting to avoid their responsibility under federal maritime law. Obtaining maintenance and cure benefits should be a quick and easy way to get your medical bills paid.What Happens After I Am Referred To The Fund?
When an employer or vessel owner refers crewmen to the Alaska Fishermen's Fund, this is a danger signal to the crewmen that the employer and vessel owner are potentially trying to avoid their duties and obligations under federal maritime law, or that the employer and vessel owner may not have proper insurance coverage to cover you for your injuries.
The Alaska Fishermen's Fund provides very limited benefits. Except in compelling circumstances, benefits under the Alaska Fishermen's Fund are limited to $2,500. It is designed to be an emergency fund, and benefits are paid only after consideration of other available insurance coverage. If the vessel owner or your employer has insurance for crewmen personal injuries, in almost all cases your claim to the Alaska Fishermen's Fund will be denied. A vessel owner's deductible is considered to be part of the vessel insurance coverage and is not collectable from the Alaska Fishermen's Fund. The Alaska Fishermen's Fund Act specifically states that benefits are limited to medical expenses not otherwise covered by insurance, such as the employer's and vessel owner's P&I policy.Am I Eligible For Benefits?
To be eligible for benefits, a crewman must hold an Alaska commercial fishing license or limited entry permit. The injury or illness must be on shore in Alaska or on Alaskan waters. Initial treatment must be received within 60 days of the injury or illness. An application for benefits must be made within one year after the initial treatment. The Fishermen's Fund Council meets just twice a year to consider paying benefits under the Alaska Fishermen's Fund.
Fish processors are excluded from coverage under the Alaska Fishermen's Fund. Fish processors injured while working in Alaska must seek benefits under the federal maritime law and the Jones Act. Fish processors injured in Alaska state territorial waters may also seek benefits under the Alaska Workers Compensation Act. However, benefits under the Jones Act and federal maritime law are almost always more generous for fish processors than benefits under the Alaska Workers Compensation Act.Call To Find Out If You Have A Case
Most fishermen are specifically prohibited from bringing claims under the Alaska Workers Compensation Act. Only fish processors injured in Alaska State territorial waters can claim workers compensation benefits. Deckhands, combis, and crewmen working on factory trawlers in the Bering Sea must claim benefits under the Jones Act and federal maritime law. Contact our firm to discuss your options and eligibility with an attorney today.