Maritime Worker Injuries: Navigating Maritime Law

If you get injured on the job as a maritime worker, what happens? Read this guide to learn about maritime worker injuries.

The rapid growth in globalization and e-commerce has played a major role in the growth of the maritime industry, and consequently the job opportunities.

A career as a maritime worker has attractive benefits including earning a six-figure salary, health insurance, travel allowance, and an opportunity to work in a challenging environment.

But this challenging environment is also dangerous. Before you make up your mind that you want to join the maritime industry, you need to acknowledge the fact that one slight mistake can result in serious injuries.

While proper training decreases the chances of causing serious safety errors, accidents are unavoidable.

If you get injured on the job as a maritime worker, what happens? Read this guide to learn about maritime worker injuries.

Common Types of Accidents in the Maritime Industry

Most of the worker injuries that happen in the maritime industry are easily avoidable. But if you find yourself a victim, you can seek the services of a personal injury lawyer to help you with getting compensation. Some of the most common dangers in the industry include;

Equipment Related Accidents

Equipment related accidents are the most common causes of worker injuries in the industry. The risk increases if you are working with substandard equipment or old vessels.  Other factors that increase equipment accidents are miscommunication among workers and improper use of the equipment.

Lack of Proper Training

The employer has a responsibility to ensure that all his workers are well trained with their respective equipment of work. Without proper training, employees will use the equipment incorrectly, fail to use safety gear, miscommunicate with other staff members, or fail to save a life if the need arises.

Falling Overboard

Falling overboard can either mean falling into the sea or between the vessels during cargo loading. This type of accident is risky since other crew members are also put in danger when trying to rescue you. Dangers associated with this accident include drowning and hypothermia among others.

Slips and Falls

There is a high risk of falling or slipping in the vessel deck due to their slippery and cluttered nature. If you fall in an unguarded area of the vessels, you can experience devastating injuries such as broken bones, spinal cord injury, concussions, and sometimes death.

Commercial Fishing Accidents

Of all maritime jobs, commercial fishing has the highest number of accidents that result in serious worker injuries or death. Long working hours result in fatigue, which in return increases the mistakes made when handling the equipment. Rough waters and bad weather also increase the risks of falling overboard.

Repetitive Motion Disorders

As a maritime worker, you find yourself doing a similar activity for a prolonged period. Not taking enough breaks between working hours causes exhaustion and repetitive motion disorder. The most affected body parts include:

  • Hips

  • Legs and feet

  • Ankles

  • Back

  • Neck

Chemical Burns

Maritime chemical burns are most common in the vessel’s engine room and the gallery. The burns may occur in case of an electrical fault, coming in contact with hot oil or exposure to harmful chemicals.

Common Maritime Injuries

There is a wide range of injuries that occur when working in the maritime industry, but there are those that occur frequently. Employers can avoid most of these by offering proper training, safe working environment, and proper use of safety gear. Some of these worker injuries include:

  • Head injuries - since maritime workers are mostly working in a moving environment, head injuries are common. It is easy to ignore those injuries as minor, but closed injuries are hard to diagnose and also very dangerous. The best thing is to seek medical attention when you get injured.

  • Broken limbs - these result from slips and falls when working overboard or fall off the gangways. However, getting proper training and applying the necessary safety measures can reduce these.

  • Amputation and loss of limbs - if this happens, it will be hard to get back to work again. The worst thing is that you may deal with emotional trauma for the rest of your life.

  • Shoulder injuries - these types of injuries can happen to any maritime worker and they are mostly caused by overexertion. They are bad in that they can result in a number of other injuries including. Some of these include shoulder dislocation, sprains, fractures, broken collarbone, bursitis, and the tearing of the glenoid labrum.

How Does the Law Protect A Maritime Worker?

The United States has maritime laws that ensure maritime workers receive compensation for injuries when on duty. These laws categorize different types of injuries that the workers can make claims. The claims depend on the circumstances surrounding the accident and who the victim is.

These laws include:

The Jones Act

This act assists you to get compensation if you can prove that the injury occurred at work and as a result of someone else’s negligence. Although your employer is liable for the damages, it is upon you to provide proof. But with the help of an accident lawyer, this shouldn’t be hard.

The act holds the employer liable because of:

  • Failing to ensure that his equipment is in proper working condition

  • Failing to provide employees with proper training before assigning them jobs

  • Assault by a co-worker

  • Oil and grease spillage on the deck

  • Overworking employees which result in fatigue

  • Failure to place warning signs at the right places

The Jones Act covers damages such as wage loss, disfigurement, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of capacity to earn.

Maintenance and Cure

This specifies your entitlement to maintenance and cure benefits in case of an accident. The benefits are regardless of when or how the accident occurred as long as you were at work. The maintenance and cure cover your bills until you get a bill of clean health from a physician stating that you are strong to get back to work again.

Some of the bills covered by maintenance include food, utility, mortgage/rent, and taxes. Cure, on the other hand, caters for all your medical bills when you are in recovery.

Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)

This is a maritime workers compensation program that offers compensation to workers injured while working on navigable waters or in areas near navigable waters. If you hold a maritime occupation, LHWCA compensation covers you.

Anyone eligible for state benefit is not compensated by this act. LHWCA states that;

  • You get 66 2/3 percent of your weekly wages when on recovery.

  • You get compensated for the loss of limbs, organs, and permanent disability to cater for your loss of ability to work again.

  • Your widow is entitled to 50% of your pay in case of death.

  • The district director of where the accident occurred must receive a report 10 days after your employer gets the news of your injury.

Death on High Seas Act

This act applies to any maritime accident that occurs over three miles ways from the US shores and nearby territories. It covers full damages that happen as a result of the death of a maritime worker if the death happened due to negligence or wrongful acts.

The deceased’s spouse, child, dependents, relatives or their representative are the only ones that can file the claim.

Use Our Services to Know More About Your Rights

If you get involved in an accident and don’t know where to start, seek the assistance of a personal injury lawyer.

We dedicate ourselves to ensuring that every maritime worker gets the compensation he deserves after an accident. To know more about your rights and the services we offer you, feel free to contact us.

Jake Steven