Lost limbs and amputations are the unfortunate consequences of some maritime accidents. If this happens to you, there are laws in place to make sure you get compensation after your accident. This compensation is supposed to cover your medical costs, lost wages, and future earnings and even compensate for your pain and suffering.
Lost Limbs Caused by Negligence
Not all accidents and injuries aboard vessels are caused by someone’s negligence. The loss of a limb on a maritime vessel most often results from negligence. The usual culprit is machinery or equipment.
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If you work with equipment aboard a ship, that machinery should be regularly maintained to work correctly and to check for damaged or failing parts.
This is your employer’s responsibility, as is ensuring you are adequately trained to use the equipment and for safety procedures. If your employer has not assured you these things and you lose a limb from an accident with machinery, they are negligent.
Another possible cause of negligence in a lost limb case is faulty navigation, improper reading of the weather, or intoxicated crew, leading to a collision.
Treating Lost Limbs and Amputations
Surgery is required to treat a lost limb or to amputate a limb that has been damaged beyond repair. Once you have had the surgery, you may still need a lot of treatment. This often includes:
- Antibiotics to prevent or treat infection
- Wound care until the site has healed
- Fitting for a prosthetic
- Physical therapy
- Pain management with medications and other therapies
Many people who have lost a limb also experience phantom limb sensation, the feeling that the lost limb is still present. This can be painful, and treatments to relieve it include practicing exercises in the area of amputation, massage therapy, vitamin supplements, applying heat to the site, and using mental strategies for relaxation.
Occupational therapy is typically a big part of treatment for lost limbs and amputations. After losing a limb, you must learn how to live without it. Occupational therapy helps you learn how to do the things you used to do but without the limb you lost. This may include learning how to use a prosthetic limb.
Finally, treatment for a lost limb must include mental health care. In addition to the physical symptoms of losing a limb, your mental health will also be affected.
The accident may have caused lasting trauma, and facing the rest of your life with a missing limb can cause depression, anxiety, and stress. Support is essential, as is therapy, to help you cope with your accident and injury.
Seeking Compensation for a Lost Limb or Amputation
Limb loss is one of the most expensive medical conditions, and you will likely face costs related to it for the rest of your life. The costs add up quickly, from the initial surgery to chronic pain and phantom limb sensation treatment to occupational therapy and prosthetics.
You have the right to compensation if you lost a limb on the job or had an amputation because of a workplace incident.
Under maritime law, you have several avenues for recovering damages. If you can prove there was negligence involved and that it contributed, even to a small degree, to your accident, you may recover damages under the Jones Act.
Whether or not any negligence was involved, and depending on your job, you may be entitled to compensation through maintenance and cure, the doctrine of unseaworthiness, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
Legal Assistance for Lost Limbs and Amputated Limbs
If the unthinkable happened to you and you lost a limb due to your maritime work, you have rights and are entitled to compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, and your pain and suffering. Several maritime laws could apply to your situation.
A knowledgeable and experienced maritime lawyer can help you sort through them and guide you through making a claim and getting compensation.