What are Common Maritime Injuries?
While maritime careers can be lucrative, as well as rewarding, they come with their own set of dangers. In fact, maritime work ranks in the same category as the construction industry as far as job hazards and the number of annual injuries. The vast majority of maritime occupations carry at least some inherent dangers, generally seen as just “part of the job.” Given proper safety procedures and comprehensive training, many of these injuries could be avoided. In short, the maritime industry is well-known for being a high-risk environment as far as accidents and injuries go, however, maritime workers do have certain protections.
While there is no workers’ compensation to protect maritime workers, they do fall under the Jones Act, which allows seamen to file a negligence claim if their injury was the result of employer negligence or the owner of the vessel has failed to engage in regular safety measures. Under the Jones Act, not only are seaman allowed to file a negligence claim for damages, but they can also file under “maintenance and cure,” which pays them a daily amount for living expenses as well as paying all medical expenses related to the accident with injury. Below are some FAQs related to maritime accidents and injuries.
What is the Most Common Maritime Accident?
You might be surprised to know that falling overboard is the number one maritime accident. Falling overboard includes not only falling in the ocean or other body of water, but falling in between vessels as they are being loaded, or fall off the side of a vessel while handing overfishing gear. Rescue efforts for those who fall overboard can be difficult, placing other workers and crew members at risk. Those who fall overboard are at risk of hypothermia, drowning, and many other injuries.
How Common are Slip and Fall Accidents on a Vessel?
Slip and fall accidents are relatively common on a vessel, just as they are in the construction industry, on land (A slip and fall can cause a seaman to fall overboard). The decks on vessels are often cluttered, frequently uneven, and almost always slippery, to some degree. A slip and fall on a vessel can result in a head injury, a fracture, a sprain, or a neck or back injury.
What Types of Injuries Occur in Enclosed Spaces?
Maritime workers often work in enclosed spaces, such as storage rooms, lockers, access corridors, and cargo areas. Seamen, who regularly work in enclosed spaces, can suffer from asphyxia or poisoning due to low oxygen levels or toxic fumes. Workers should always wear appropriate protective gear to avoid asphyxia or poisoning. Working in an enclosed space can also result in workers running into one another, or slip and falls, which, in turn, can result in fractures, neck and back injuries, bruises or cuts, and head injuries.
Are Fishing Accidents Common?
According to the CDC, commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S., including hazardous working conditions, harsh weather conditions, long hours of work, and strenuous labor. Between 2000 and 2015, there was an average of 117 deaths per 100,000 fishing industry workers, while only four deaths per 100,000 workers among all workers on land. The pacific salmon, pollock, shrimp, and lobster industries contributed the most to these deaths. Among the deaths on fishing vessels, nearly half occurred after a vessel disaster, a fisherman fell overboard in about 30 percent of the deaths, and the remainder of the deaths were related to onboard injuries.
What are Other Common Causes of Maritime Injuries?
Maritime injuries often occur on docks or piers, while heavy cargo is being loaded and unloaded, usually with heavy equipment. Navigation of gangways can be treacherous, causing slip and fall accidents. Chemical burns often occur in the engine room or galley; the engine room has high voltage equipment, harmful chemicals, and burning equipment, while the galley has boiling water and hot oil for frying. Injuries can also result from repetitive motions, with the back, hip, neck, ankles, feet, and legs being the most susceptible to these injuries.
What are the Most Common Maritime Injuries?
Overall, the most common maritime injuries include:
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injury
- Broken arms, legs, and ankles
- Lost limbs
- Shoulder injuries
- Damaged collarbone
- Shoulder dislocation
- Knee and hip injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
When Should a Seaman Hire a Maritime Attorney?
While some accidents could not have been prevented, the majority can. Employers must ensure that maritime workers have the safest working environment possible, yet lack of safety training and safety equipment causes many maritime accidents. If you have been injured on a vessel, you could benefit from contacting a Hoffoss Devall maritime attorney. Our attorneys are familiar with the Jones Act and will work hard on your behalf to obtain compensation for your injuries while protecting your rights and your future. Contact Hoffoss Devall today.