Maritime work is physical work. It can be grueling and difficult, and injuries are not uncommon. Any number of injuries can occur during your duties as a seaman, but injuries to the shoulder are among some of the most common. Many maritime injuries can be painful and debilitating. They may even keep you from being able to do your job. As a seaman you have the right to compensation if you get injured on the job, and that includes shoulder injuries, thanks to maritime laws.
Maritime Work and Shoulder Injuries
Depending on your exact duties, your job as a seaman is probably physically intense. In any kind of job in which you are physical and moving a lot, injuries to the shoulder are a possibility. If your job includes a lot of lifting, for instance, you may injure your shoulder lifting something heavy, or cause damage to the joint over time.
Maritime settings are also susceptible to accidents, which can cause a shoulder injury. You slip and fall on the deck of a ship or work with dangerous equipment that hasn’t been properly maintained. For instance, a winch that is not working right could jerk your shoulder and cause an acute and painful injury. Unsecured cargo could fall on you and damage your shoulder. If you haven’t been well trained for safety procedures, this could increase your risk of having a shoulder injury.
Types of Shoulder Injuries
There are many different ways you can damage your shoulder and that can develop during a maritime job, as this is a complicated joint that is used regularly. There are four main categories of shoulder injury:
- Tendinitis is the inflammation of tendons in the shoulder. It usually occurs as a slow process of wearing the tendon down over time. You can develop tendinitis in the shoulder if you perform a lot of lifting or throwing on the job.
- Dislocation of the shoulder joint happen when your upper arm bone comes out of the joint. This can be a full or partial dislocation and it is very painful. It is caused by overuse of the shoulder joint, but can also happen suddenly in an accident.
- Fractures, or broken bones, in the shoulder area usually involve the collarbone, upper arm bone, or the shoulder blade. You could get a fracture if you fall, are assaulted, or have something fall on you.
- Arthritis, or joint swelling, comes in many different forms, and is not always caused by working conditions, but it can be caused by overuse. If you have to move your shoulder joint repeatedly for your job duties, you could develop arthritis over time.
How Damage to the Shoulder is Treated
If you have injured your shoulder on the job, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible and get documentation for it. Shoulder damage is treated in different ways depending on the injury and the individual. Common treatment approaches include rest and changing your activities to let the joint heal, using medications to reduce inflammation and pain, and surgery to correct damage in the joint.
How you respond to treatment will depend on the extent of your injury. Some shoulder injuries can be severe and you may never recover full articulation of the joint. You may also experience chronic pain in that joint. Under maritime law you are entitled to compensation for the medical treatment you receive for your on-the-job shoulder injury and you may be able to recover damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, and lost future wages as well.
What to Do if You Injure Your Shoulder on the Job
It is important to get treatment right away for any shoulder injury you get on the job. Make sure that your treatment is documented and that you retain copies of your file. You also need to file a report as soon as possible. Your superior will complete the report and send it to your employer and your employer’s insurer so that you can make a claim for compensation. It is your responsibility to make sure this report is completed and that it includes as much detail about the incident as possible.
There is a statute of limitations on the various maritime laws that confer you the right to compensation, so get treatment and a report filed as soon as possible. If your injury is accumulative, the amount of time you have to file a claim begins when you first get a diagnosis of damage to the shoulder caused by repeated motions at work.
If you feel like you should be receiving compensation for your shoulder injury and you are not, look for an attorney with experience in maritime law. This professional can help you file a claim under the appropriate laws to get the damages to which you are entitled. Working with an experienced professional could make the difference between getting what you are owed and losing your case.