Common maritime accidents and injuries include slip and fall incidents, overuse injuries, falls overboard, and ship fires. Working on a vessel can be exciting and lucrative, but it can also be dangerous. Many maritime workers get injured and seek compensation for lost wages and medical expenses.
The Risks of Working in the Maritime Industry
Accidents that lead to injuries, and sometimes even fatalities, are common among people doing this work. This includes workers in a port as a longshoreman, aboard a ship as a seaman, on an offshore platform, or in some other maritime role.
Get Matched with a Leading Maritime Attorney in Your Area
- Find the leading maritime lawyers in your area
- Discover how to get compensation as fast as possible
- Learn your legal rights as an injured maritime worker
The work is often physically demanding, requires long hours, and comes with the risk of being involved in an accident.
Fortunately for those working in the maritime industry, federal laws ensure that payment helps injured maritime workers get back on their feet.
These laws also allow the dependent survivors of loved ones lost on the job to cover expenses. Too often, maritime accidents and injuries that are seen every day throughout the country are preventable. If you fall victim to one of these accidents, let the law help you get the compensation you deserve.
Some of the most common accidents in the maritime industry are those caused by equipment.
From large container cranes to trawling winches to forklifts, equipment used on and around ships can cause serious harm for several reasons:
- Workers do not use them correctly.
- The equipment is not well maintained.
- Faulty equipment doesn’t get repaired before use.
- Workers miscommunicate when operating equipment.
Inadequate Training Accidents
Regardless of the type of equipment used, accidents are likely to happen when workers are not adequately trained to do their jobs.
Poor training may lead to a worker misusing equipment, not communicating correctly with another worker, or being unable to use safety gear to save someone’s life. Training is the employer’s responsibility; when ignored, workers get hurt.
Commercial Fishing Accidents
The most dangerous of all maritime jobs is commercial fishing. More people working in this industry are injured or killed on the job than in any other.
Long, grueling hours aboard small vessels in rough waters and bad weather mean that falls overboard, mistakes with equipment, exposure to the elements, and errors made due to fatigue are all too common.
Port and dock workers are not immune to the dangers of maritime work. Although they do not work on ships out at sea, they face many risks on the job.
Equipment accidents are a significant source of injury in ports, especially those involving cranes that lift cargo and the trucks and forklifts that move it around the port. Falls into the water, chemical exposure, fires, and other accidents are also not uncommon on shore.
Falling overboard is an all too common accident for maritime workers. More than many other types of accidents overboard falls lead to fatalities.
When seamen fall overboard at sea, they may never be found again and may die from drowning. Even when rescued, these falls overboard can lead to severe cases of hypothermia.
Falls are not limited to ships and fishing vessels, though. Falls into the water may also occur at docks and in the crowded waters of a port. In these cases, workers may drown but risk being crushed between boats or between a boat and a dock.
Head, Neck, and Back Injuries
Injuries to the head, neck, and back are among the most common in the maritime industry when accidents occur.
For instance, moving cargo in a port can lead to workers being struck in the head. Slips and falls often result in back or neck injuries.
Even seemingly small bumps on the head can end up being severe. The worst injuries result in lifelong health problems like chronic pain or paralysis.
As terrible as it sounds, maritime workers risk losing a limb on the job or requiring an amputation due to an accident.
Working with equipment is a common cause, including getting a limb stuck in a fishing trawling winch or a conveyor belt.
Lost limbs can be seriously traumatizing and may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Losing a limb may also mean a worker can never return to his original job.
Maritime workers necessarily work with cargo, and often that cargo is a toxic chemical. When an accident occurs, workers are at risk of exposure to chemicals that may cause burns or respiratory illness. Flammable chemicals may start fires that can injure or kill workers.
Fire and Electrical Accidents
Electrical accidents and fires are possible on ships and in port areas. When electrical systems are not updated or maintained, shocks and more severe accidents can happen.
Electrical systems and other causes of fires can be devastating, especially on a ship at sea. When there is nowhere to go but overboard, these fires can lead to serious injuries and fatalities.
Repetitive Use Injuries
Many jobs on ships and in ports involve using the same movement repeatedly. This can lead to repetitive use injuries, which cause damage, inflammation, and pain in joints, nerves, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
Typical areas of the body that maritime workers suffer these injuries include the back, neck, ankles, feet, and hips.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
These kinds of accidents can occur in any industry and any workplace, but the consequences in maritime settings can be much more serious.
There are many moving parts in maritime work, with equipment, people, and cargo moving from place to place. This makes slipping, tripping, and falling all too common.
Slipping and tripping may often lead to minor or no injuries, but a fall can also be into a deep cargo hold on a ship or into the water with disastrous consequences.
Many different kinds of maritime accidents can lead to shoulder injuries:
- Slip and falls
- Repetitive motion
- Equipment accidents
- Being struck with cargo
Common shoulder injuries include joint dislocation, fractures and broken bones, and even arthritis caused by years of overuse of the shoulder joint.
The many minor injuries maritime workers suffer don’t always get the attention of more significant, traumatic accidents. Still, these minor injuries can accumulate over time and cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
Maritime workers are vulnerable to broken and sprained bones, tendonitis, scrapes, and cuts just from the work they do on the job every day.
When Maritime Accidents Involve Negligence
Sometimes an accident is truly an accident, but in the maritime industry, negligence often plays a role in the cause of a maritime accident:
- Improperly trained workers
- Failure to maintain and repair equipment
- Not having good communication policies in place
- Requiring workers to be on the job for long hours without breaks
- Not keeping decks and docks clear of trip hazards
- Making poor decisions about going out in dangerous waters
These are just a few of the more common examples of how negligence on the part of an employer can cause maritime accidents and injuries.
What to Do if You Have Been Injured
If you have suffered an injury on the job, you could face significant medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings if your injuries are lasting, and even emotional and psychological trauma. If you die on the job, your loved ones could face all these things without you.
If you are injured in a maritime job, make sure you do the following.
- Get medical treatment and keep the records.
- File an accident report as soon as possible with a lot of details about the incident.
- Talk to a maritime lawyer.
Several different maritime laws are in place to ensure you get the money you deserve, but trying to get it alone without help is difficult.
A maritime lawyer can help you use the evidence from your medical records and accident report to get the compensation you need after an accident. Rely on an expert, and you can be sure you will get the maximum benefits.