A mate on a commercial shipping vessel was attempting to dislodge a trawl door, which keeps the fishing net open. At that time, the captain of the ship activated the main winch on the ship. The winch closed the door and crushed the mate’s fingers on his right hand.
The injured fisherman was treated for swelling and lacerations, and was able to return to work in a limited capacity for a short period of time. After a few weeks, however, the injured mate was diagnosed with a flexion contracture injury and underwent several surgical procedures intended to heal his injured hand.
The fisherman experienced considerable pain, and was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome and reflex sympathetic dystrophy. The mate was unable to return to work as a fisherman, and was forced to retrain himself and obtain full time employment as a computer technician.
The mate brought suit against the ship captain for negligence under the Jones Act and general maritime law. The injured mate alleged that the captain failed to make sure that the crew was out of the zone of danger of the main winch before activating it. The captain argued that the injured mate was negligent for sticking his hand into a moving trawl door, and that he was not actually suffering from complex regional pain syndrome in any event.
The parties settled the admiralty personal injury lawsuit for $500,000.
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