Alaska is the only state in the nation with its own fishermen’s fund. With the sheer amount of maritime work done in Alaska, accidents and injuries occur often, and in many cases, because of employer negligence. The fund was set up to provide care and treatment to licensed fisherman in Alaska. The money for the Alaska Fishermen’s Fund is provided through permit fees of both licensed and unlicensed fishermen in the state.
How to Qualify for Alaska Fishermen’s Fund Compensation
As with general maritime law and The Jones Act, there are certain requirements in order to qualify for compensation under the Alaska Fishermen’s Fund. The main requirement, is aforementioned, is that anyone seeking compensation must, no matter what, be a licensed commercial fisherman in Alaska. If a commercial license isn’t held, the fisherman must at least have limited entry permits prior to any injuries. The limited entry permit date is accepted according to the date the permit was accepted and embossed, not when the fees for the permit was paid.
In addition to license and permit requirements, the injury must have taken place on Alaska waters or onshore in Alaska. Furthermore, medical treatments for the injuries must have been started within 60 days of their occurrence. Each type of treatment must be fully documented by a physician, and all claims must be filed within a year of the injuries.
How to File a Claim for the Alaska Fishermen’s Fund
It’s up to the fisherman to start the claim process for compensation, but legal representation and help from an experienced maritime attorney is recommended to ensure the process is done correctly.
To get started, two forms must be completely filled out, which include:
- Fishermen’s Report of Injury or Illness
- Physician’s Report of Injury or Illness
The reports must include:
- The fisherman’s license number
- The vessel owners Protection & Indemnity number (P&I)
- The location where the injuries happened as well as the specifics surrounding the accident
- The fisherman’s signature, full address, and the date the forms were signed
Additional Things to Consider
The Alaska Fishermen’s Fund is considered a last resort in compensation. In other words, all other avenues of compensation, such as insurance and public programs, must have been attempted before the worker is entitled to compensation under the Alaska Fishermen’s Fund. It’s highly recommended to consult with a maritime attorney who understands these intricate laws and can help workers in getting the highest amounts of compensation.
Additionally, processors are not covered under the Alaska Fishermen’s Fund, but other avenues of compensation exist for these workers, such as general maritime law and The Jones Act.
If Your Claim is Denied
Claims are typically denied if the fisherman doesn’t report the injury in time, doesn’t file the claim in time, or doesn’t respond to an inquiry within 90 days. However, fishermen have the right to appeal to the Alaska Fishermen’s Fund’s Advisory and Appeals Council if they feel the denial was unjust. Under Alaska Statute 44.62.540(a), the appeal must be done within 15 days of denial.
For additional resources and for PDF versions of the forms needed to start a claim, visit the Alaska “Division of Workers’ Compensation” official government page.