The most common maritime accidents that cause injury, disability, and death in seamen and sailors are those that occur during everyday activities onboard the vessel. A study published by the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that most maritime accidents happened while the victim was performing routine duties.
The ways seamen can suffer injuries onboard a ship include:
- Slips and falls
- Falls from an elevated height
- Falling overboard
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Overexertion injuries and strains
- Injuries caused by dangerous tasks, often because of improper safety gear
Seamen Often Suffer Injuries in Falls Onboard a Vessel
Whether the boat is on the open ocean or docked in a U.S. port, there can be many fall dangers onboard. The wet deck of a rocking vessel can cause a slip or make the seaman lose his balance. Other floors inside the vessel may also become wet or slippery from spills, leaks, or poor cleaning and maintenance.
The frequency that seamen climb ladders and work at an elevated height can also increase the risk of a significant fall injury. A fall into an open cargo hold, off of the mast, or because of a broken or missing hatch cover could cause catastrophic injuries. Workers on lashing bridges and those who work aloft are also at an increased risk.
Working at an elevated area or over a cargo hold is dangerous, but the risk can be significantly reduced with the right personal protective equipment (PPE), including harnesses. Seamen need training on the proper use of this equipment, how to work on catwalks, and how to protect themselves from injury when possible.
Repetitive Motion and Overexertion Injuries May Occur Because of a Lack of Training
Some of the most common maritime accidents and injuries also stem from a lack of training in lifting, exerting, and managing repetitive motions safely. Without this training, workers may develop overexertion injuries, repetitive motion injuries, and chronic pain.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), these injuries most commonly occur in:
- Elbows, hands, and wrists
- Neck and back
- Legs, knees, ankles, and feet
Some Jobs on a Vessel are Inherently Dangerous, but There are Options for Safety
Seamen may suffer injuries while performing certain inherently dangerous tasks. These tasks require special training and safety equipment, but some seaman may not receive adequate training or have the proper PPE for the job.
These dangerous tasks may include:
- Working with chemicals that could cause burns, toxic fumes, or other exposure injuries
- Loading or unloading cargo using heavy machines
- Welding and repair work
- Engine room work
Many of these injuries occur while the worker is performing a specific job-related task. For example, deck workers on a crab boat might become pinned under a heavy crab pot if the crane operator makes a mistake.
Building a Case for Compensation After a Maritime Accident
Depending on the cause of the accident and other factors, an injured maritime worker may be able to take action against their employer or the shipowner to recover compensation.
An injured worker’s options for seeking compensation may include:
- The Jones Act
- The doctrine of unseaworthiness
- Maintenance and cure
The Jones Act
Under 46 U.S. Code §30104, the Jones Act allows injured seamen to build a negligence case against their employer or another party that caused the accident and injuries.
The Doctrine of Unseaworthiness
The doctrine of unseaworthiness is a type of maritime law that may allow an injured seaman to hold the shipowner liable if their boat was inadequate or ill-equipped for the tasks required.
Maintenance and Cure
Under maintenance and cure, seamen hurt at work may be able to recover the cost of medical treatment and a portion of their lost wages from their employers.
An injured ship worker may be able to pursue one of these options separately, or they may be used together to build a case against both the shipowner and the employer.
Speak with an Attorney from Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers Today About Your Options
At Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers, we will assess your case for free and determine your options for seeking damages. You may be able to recover maintenance and cure, lost wages, and other compensation for your maritime accident.
If we represent you in your case, you will not need to pay us anything upfront. We are a contingency fee firm. Call (337) 777-7777 for your complimentary, no-obligation consultation.