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What are the most common causes of fatalities in the Gulf?

Not everyone is cut out for working on the water. All you have to do is peruse the cable channels to find this out. Shows such as "Deadliest Catch" make it clear that there's a big difference between making a living by working in the Gulf of Mexico and going out for a little weekend recreational fishing.

It can be a tough life. Whether you work on a commercial fishing boat, in the harbors that proliferate along the Gulf coast from Texas to Florida, or on a barge or drilling rig, the hazards can be many. And if you are injured in the maritime setting, unique challenges can crop up when it comes to obtaining the compensation that you may be due.

There are all sorts of situations that can contribute to a worker suffering a serious or even fatal injury at sea. Specific to commercial fishing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified four things that represent the greatest dangers to those who work in the Gulf. They are, in descending order: vessel disasters, falls overboard, injuries afloat and injuries while diving.

According to a study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, there were 116 fatalities in the commercial fishing industry in the Gulf from 2000 to 2009. Of them, 46 percent were found to have been due to falls overboard. Another 40 percent were the result of accidents on board, and half of them involved deck winches.

While 116 deaths might not seem significantly high and statistics indicate that the numbers of accidents occurring have steadily declined, officials still note that the fatality rate within the commercial fishery industry is 39 times greater than the national average.

While individual actions accounted for some of the deaths, researchers suggested most of them might have been prevented had boats been better equipped with safety gear and if crewmembers had been properly outfitted with personal floatation devices.

These are responsibilities that boat and ship owners bear and if unsafe conditions contribute to an injury or death, consulting with an attorney is strongly recommended.

Source: CDC.gov, "Commercial Fishing Safety in the Gulf of Mexico" accessed Dec. 30, 2015

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