Working in an open sea vessel is well-paying yet risky, baring you to many maritime injuries. At times, property damage onboard can cause accidents as well. For instance, commercial vessels saw 9,500 non-fatal and 74 fatal injuries from 2011 to 2016 in the US alone.
Safety is always a top concern, yet accidents are largely unpredictable. It’s vital to prepare for the worst once you work or spend time at sea. Therefore, you should become aware of common offshore injuries. Learning about them lets you handle any given situation as they happen.
In any case, legal help is available to protect your rights. You can turn to a maritime injury lawyer for legal assistance right away.
What are maritime injuries?
A maritime injury refers to any injury or illness experienced on board a vessel. It usually results from negligence by owners, workers, or passengers. Often, these incidents happen at random to anyone at sea. There’s no telling when and where it can happen. Your risk increases the more demanding your job is.
What are the common factors that can lead to an accident? Here are some of them:
- Extreme weather and swells
- Poorly maintained equipment
- Confined spaces
- Nature of work
- Long working hours
- Abuse and bullying
Maritime injuries create severe consequences. Firstly, help may not arrive quickly due to the distance. Also, communication isn’t as easy as in emergency cases on land. The situation worsens if bad weather prevents rescuers from traveling.
Luckily, there are federal laws covering such accidents. This payment allows the injured to pay for their bills while they recover. In cases of fatal injuries, the dependents can get compensated for their loss. If you fall victim to any offshore injury, let a lawyer help you win the compensation you deserve.
Common maritime injuries
Often, accidents at sea are preventable. However, the job entails physical labor and heavy machines that attract more mishaps than normal. Here are some typical injuries anyone onboard are at risk of.
When people hear of accidents at sea, they almost always think of the victim falling overboard. Falling out of the vessel can lead to serious injuries. They can easily get lost at sea or drown. Even if the victim gets rescued, they can still suffer from hypothermia.
Of course, falls are not exclusive to commercial fishing or passenger ships. Some can happen at docks or ports. For example, the worker falls while loading cargo or operating fishing gear. In such cases, there is also a risk of getting crushed by boats or dock structures.
Slip and fall
Slipping and falling onboard are common accidents onboard a ship. Deck accidents on an oil platform or jack up rig are a risk for seafarers. Several surfaces on the deck are wet or icy, causing unstable footing. Sometimes, the crew can fall on sharp objects, adding hazards to the work.
Falling from a tall height such as climbing a ladder can lead to a worse type of injury. The victim can sustain wounds or fractures on the head, back, and neck because of it. Even getting small bumps from stumbling can result in complications. If that’s the case, a simple slip or fall can cause lifelong health issues like paralysis or chronic pain.
Another common example of maritime injuries is an accident caused by equipment. From trawling winches to cranes to forklifts, any piece of heavy equipment is a hazard. You can get hurt if you use machines incorrectly.
In addition, you can also get harmed if the equipment is not well-maintained. Broken machines need prompt repairs. Otherwise, anyone handling broken-down machinery is a risk for serious injuries.
Accidents related to inadequate training
Working in a vessel takes a lot of skills. An inadequately trained seafarer is more prone to accidents on the job. A poorly skilled member can miscommunicate tasks which lead to more issues. What’s more, they might not know how to use safety gear to save a co-worker’s life.
The employer is largely responsible for ensuring that the staff is properly trained. When they ignore this crucial aspect, workers are bound to get hurt. Therefore, victims can seek compensation for injuries sustained due to this reason.
Maritime injuries in enclosed spaces
Places like storage or cargo rooms are tight and enclosed. These small spaces can stifle a person without the right protective gear on. They can get trapped in a cramped room with low oxygen. As a result, the victim may inhale toxic fumes that harm their health.
These situations can cause suffocation and gas poisoning. Getting trapped for hours can further cause lung or brain injuries.
The galley or engine room house substances that cause serious burns. For example, cooks in the galley can get burned by boiling water or hot oil. Severe burn wounds are harder to treat at sea. Some injuries require specialized burn treatment that may not be accessible onboard.
Additionally, the engine room is also a hotspot for burn accidents. You can find high voltage machines and harmful chemicals in this area. Other parts of the vessel contain flammable substances as well. Once exposed, you can suffer third-degree burns that are fatal if left untreated.
Repetitive use injury
Some jobs on a ship require doing the same motion repeatedly. You can strain your muscles or joints while performing the tasks. These repetitive motion injuries can damage your tendons, ligaments, muscles, or nerves.
Repetitive motion disorder (RMD) can happen due to many factors. One, it can be a consequence of poor training. It can also happen to workers who skip breaks. Also, not wearing a proper uniform or gear can cause RMD.
Some of the most brutal maritime injuries include losing limbs. In rare cases, the worker can have their arm or leg stuck on equipment. Conveyor belts or trawling winches can cause a higher risk of losing limbs. Not only does it cause physical harm but also leads to trauma. Anyone who loses their limbs at sea can suffer from PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Often, a seafarer sprains their bones or gets cuts or scraps during work. They may only cause tiny, negligible wounds. However, these injuries can amass over time and cause pain and discomfort. There comes a point when minor injuries disturb other daily activities such as eating or walking.
How to deal with injuries at sea
If you ever find yourself in these situations, you need to follow these basic steps:
- Get treatment. First things first, getting medical help is a top priority. You should consult with your healthcare provider onboard immediately. They can create a plan of treatment and provide first aid. When they do, you should keep in mind to secure all the records, too.
- File a report. You need to file a detailed incident report about the accident. It’s a vital document that you will need later when seeking compensation.
- Talk to a maritime lawyer. Attorneys specializing in maritime law can deliver the right assistance for you. They utilize the evidence (medical records, incident report) to get you paid for injuries you suffered at sea.
Choose O’Bryan Maritime Lawyers
Our team of maritime law experts at O’Bryan Law can fight for your rights as a victim of maritime injuries. We are a very experienced firm with over hundreds of winning cases to boot. Our lawyers never waste any effort to obtain favorable verdicts for our clients. Let us handle your possible claim and get the maximum compensation you deserve. Call us now to get a free consultation!