As a dangerous job, being a seaman means taking risks. It is inherently dangerous, but negligence and unseaworthiness can make working aboard a ship even riskier. No one should have to lose a limb at work. If you do, and you work in the maritime industry, there are laws in place to make sure you get compensation after your accident. This compensation is supposed to cover your medical costs, your lost wages, your lost future earnings, and even to make up for your pain and suffering. If you lose a limb or have an accident that leads to amputation, know that you have rights and resources.
Lost Limbs Caused by Negligence
Not all accidents and injuries aboard vessels are caused by someone’s negligence. The loss of a limb, however, most often is, and the usual culprit is machinery or equipment. If you work with equipment aboard a ship, that machinery should be regularly maintained so that it is working correctly and to check for damaged or failing parts. This is the responsibility of your employer, as is making sure you are adequately trained to use the equipment and for safety procedures. If your employer has not assured these things and you lose a limb from an accident with machinery, he or she is negligent. Another possible cause of negligence in a lost limb case is faulty navigation that leads 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. If you lose a limb, you may also need to take antibiotics to prevent or treat infection. Proper would care will also be needed until you have healed. Once you have had the surgery, you may still need a lot of treatment for both the physical and emotional symptoms of limb loss.
After losing a limb, you might get a prosthetic. You may need physical therapy. You will probably also need treatment for pain. This could include medication as well as alternative therapies like acupuncture. 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 the amputation, massage therapy, vitamin supplements, applying heat to the area, 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 need to learn how to live without it. Occupational therapy helps you learn how to do the things you used to do, but in different ways and 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 that come with 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 important, but so is therapy to help you cope with your accident and injury.
Recovering Compensation for a Lost Limb or Amputation
If you lost a limb on the job or had to have an amputation because of a workplace incident, you have rights to compensation. Limb loss is one of the most expensive of medical conditions and you will likely face costs related to it for the rest of your life. From the initial surgery, to treatment for chronic pain and phantom limb sensation to occupational therapy and prosthetics, the costs add up quickly.
Under maritime law you have several avenues for recovering damages. 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. If you can prove there was negligence involved and that it contributed, even to a small degree, to your accident you may be able to recover damages under the Jones Act.
Legal Assistance for Lost Limbs and Amputated Limbs
If the unthinkable has happened to you and you lost a limb due to your maritime work, you have rights and you are entitled to compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, and your pain and suffering. There are several maritime laws that could apply in your situation. A lawyer knowledgeable in this area and experienced at helping people with maritime injuries can help you sort through them and guide you through the process of making a claim and getting compensation.