Our Offshore Injury Lawyer Discusses 10 of the Most Common Injuries for Maritime Workers

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Seaman, longshoreman or other offshore workers do physically demanding work and face a substantial risk of injury. If you are a maritime worker and you sustain injury, your process for obtaining compensation differs from that of other workers eligible for workers’ compensation. Because your injuries may impact your ability to continue doing your job and may be costly to treat, it’s imperative to reach out to an offshore injury lawyer with the experience necessary to help you take full advantage of legal remedies available to you.

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. can help. Our firm is a trusted maritime injury firm familiar with both maritime and admiralty law. We provide assistance to maritime workers making claims under the Jones Act and other maritime statutes, and the comprehensive help we offer in proving your claim and proving the extent of your damages can help you to maximize the chances of full recovery. Because maritime laws often favor vessel employers over maritime workers, and because deadlines for taking action are short, it’s imperative to seek assistance as soon as possible with personal injury and wrongful death claims.

Many different types of injuries can affect maritime workers and can result in claims under the Jones Act or other statutes providing protection, such as the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.  However, certain injuries are especially common within the maritime industry due to the nature of the work that is performed.  Common injuries sustained by maritime workers include:

  • Back Injuries

Back injuries frequently occur both while working on shore and while working on vessels.  Maritime workers often do physically demanding work that puts intense stress on the soft tissues and joints of the back.  Workers routinely lift heavy items, and often move their bodies in ways that cause overexertion and overextension injuries.  Falls can also cause back injuries.

Injuries can include a herniated disc, disc compression and a host of other problems and many back injuries are progressive, which means they grow worse over time. A back injury could necessitate surgical correction and, in some cases, could be incurable.  Range of motion and movements could be limited in such a way that a career in offshore work is ended, and some back injuries including those involving the soft tissues can be difficult to conclusively diagnose, which makes proving eligibility for benefits a challenge.

  • Spinal Cord Damage

Spinal cord damage can occur due to falls, being struck by objects, or other impact that damages the spine.  Spinal cord injuries can be complete or partial and they can result in loss of feeling and muscle control.

Total or partial paralysis can occur as a result of damage to the spinal and spinal cord injuries typically cannot be cured.  Treatment in the aftermath of a spinal cord injury can cost millions of dollars and victims suffering from quadriplegia or paraplegia require specialized medical equipment and therapies for the rest of their lifetime. Not only is a career ended by spinal cord injury, but our offshore injury lawyer has found that victims can be left with permanent impairment that requires costly round-the-clock care and that causes a substantial decline in quality of life.

  • Pleural Disease

Because offshore workers may be exposed to toxic chemicals as part of their job duties, whether from chemicals used in routine work, spills, or exposure to dangerous cargo, workers are at risk of a number of health issues in connection with this exposure.

Toxic exposure affects many parts of the body, including the lungs. When maritime workers breathe in toxic substances, this can cause a non-cancerous hardening or thickening of lung tissues. This condition, called pleural disease, can make breathing a challenge, leaving workers coping with coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, and other symptoms that could end their careers and threaten their life.

  • Limb Loss

Seamen are at risk of losing fingers, hands, arms, legs, and feet due to their frequent work with heavy equipment, heavy cargo, ropes and lines, and other machinery they must interact with on a routine basis while working on port or on vessels.

Workers who sustain limb loss may have their careers permanently ended, in addition to experiencing complications such as phantom pain in the lost limb. A lengthy rehabilitation process may be necessary to learn to use a prothesis.

  • Crush Injuries

Maritime workers can become trapped between objects, including cargo or machinery.  Crush injuries can cause serious and often fatal injuries to affected maritime workers. When workers sustain crush injuries while working offshore, there may be limited rescue equipment available to quickly extract the maritime worker from the objects that he has become caught between, exacerbating the severity of crush injuries as a worker remains trapped for a lengthy period of time.

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury can occur as a result of deprivation of oxygen to the brain or as a result of trauma. A maritime worker could sustain traumatic brain injury if struck in the head by objects or equipment. A fall can also result in traumatic brain injury, both if the head is struck on an object such as the vessel or if the brain is hit hard against the skull due to violent shaking of the head and neck.

Even a simple concussion can be a serious brain injury that has lasting effects on mood, memory and cognitive function and that increases the risk of dementia or other brain diseases later in life. Unfortunately, our offshore injury lawyer has seen cases in which some brain injuries can cause loss of consciousness and even death.  Recovery from a brain injury is often very expensive and complicated.

  • Drowning

Although maritime workers are at regular risk of drowning due to being on open waters for much of their career, drowning is not as common as other causes of injury and fatality to maritime workers. Still, drowning is a risk and can occur because of unseaworthy vessels. A simple slip and fall that causes a worker to fall into water could also result in drowning.

  • Compartment Syndrome

If maritime workers experience loss of blood flow to the nerves, internal organs, or muscles, workers can experience compartment syndrome. This can occur because of accidents with equipment, crushing injuries, or other common accidents on board vessels or while otherwise working offshore.  Compartment syndrome can necessitate emergency surgery and, without prompt and effective treatment, could result in the loss of a limb.

  • Slip and Fall Injuries

Falls are common among maritime workers, especially while offshore on vessels or other equipment when exposed to inclement conditions. Falls can occur on the same level or from a height. Falls can cause serious injuries including traumatic brain injury and damage to the spine. Falls can also result in maritime workers suffering more minor but still painful and costly injuries including broken bones and lacerations. Workers may need a recovery period after suffering a fall, or the injuries that are sustained as a result of the fall may cause permanent impairment that makes continued work in the maritime industry impossible.

  • Burns

Because maritime workers are often exposed to highly flammable fuel used in the maritime injury, workers are at serious risk of burn injuries due to fire or explosion. Burns can be disfiguring, painful, and life threatening.

An Offshore and Maritime Injury Attorney Can Provide Assistance

These are just some of the many serious injuries that maritime workers could sustain as a result of the difficult work that they do.  An admiralty and offshore injury lawyer should be consulted by maritime workers for assistance both in determining if the vessel owner or maritime employer should be held accountable for providing benefits and compensation and for assistance in gathering evidence to prove a claim for damages.

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. can provide assistance to maritime workers in the aftermath of an accident in taking the necessary action to pursue a claim, demonstrate liability of the maritime employer, and showcase the extent of injury to maximize the chances of full compensation.

Many maritime workers make mistakes in understanding what must be proved under the Jones Act or in pursuing claims under the wrong maritime statutes not applicable to their situation. There are myriad complexities associated in determining if an injured worker is actually a seaman for purposes of qualifying for benefits for maritime workers and in proving that vessel owners or maritime employers should be held accountable under the laws governing injuries affecting offshore workers.

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. has provided help to maritime workers in standing up against some of the biggest companies in the maritime industry. Whether you were a crewman aboard a cruise ship, working on an offshore oil rig, doing work on a commercial vessel, or otherwise doing your job as a seaman on any vessel traveling on U.S. waterways, our offshore injury attorney can provide you with representation in the aftermath of an injury.

We provide assistance with both personal injury claims and wrongful death cases and we will work aggressively to fight for the compensation you deserve if you or a loved one has been hurt while working at sea. Contact us today to find out more about how an offshore injury lawyer at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. can help you.