Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a serious psychiatric disorder caused by traumatic experiences. It can impact a person for years and symptoms can be severe enough to make living and working difficult. Seamen are at risk for PTSD if they experience an accident or even witness someone else being injured on a vessel. If you have developed this disorder after an incident at sea, you may be entitled to compensation through the Jones Act.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
According to the National Institutes of Health, PTSD is a disorder that is caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It is characterized by having a damaged “fight or flight” response. If you don’t have PTSD, your normal reaction to being in danger is to prepare to either fight or run from the source of the danger. If you have the disorder this response is triggered even when you are not in danger. Anything that reminds you of the traumatic experience can trigger the alarming sensation of needing to run or fight.
Not everyone who experiences something traumatic will develop PTSD, but if you have been involved in or witnessed an accident at sea, you should be aware of the symptoms. These include re-living the event through flashbacks or nightmares, avoiding anything that reminds you of the event, and being easily startled into a “fight or flight” response. Someone with PTSD often feels on edge, frightened, angry, and may have outburst, be unable to sleep, or lose interest in normal activities.
Can PTSD Be Treated?
If you suffer from post-traumatic stress there is hope and there are treatments that can help. It isn’t always easy to overcome, though, and it can be seriously disruptive to your normal life. Psychotherapy is one main type of treatment, and can include exposure therapy, or facing what scares you about the trauma you experienced. Medications can also be helpful in treating PTSD.
There is no cure for PTSD, but many people can recover a normal way of life with dedicated treatment. The best treatment for it is prevention. If you experienced trauma aboard a vessel, your employer should have provided mental health services right away. Having immediate support can help people cope with trauma in healthy ways and may prevent the onset of the disorder.
Jones Act Compensation for PTSD
Any accident that occurs on your vessel, that was caused by negligence, and that has impacted your health, mental or physical, can result in medical bills, lost wages, and other types of pain or suffering. If you experience symptoms because of what happened on your vessel, you can file a Jones Act claim and seek compensation for your treatment, and other needs.
To qualify for PTSD Jones Act compensation you must be able to demonstrate that you have experienced at least one of the symptoms of the disorder. If you think you may qualify, be sure that you are diagnosed by a professional and that you can show medical records proving that you are suffering from symptoms.
Getting Legal Help for PTSD
If you think that you have developed PTSD because of an event you experienced while aboard a vessel, working as a seaman, and that you have not been given adequate care for it, you may qualify for compensation under the Jones Act. You can file a claim and make a case that your life has been impacted by a negligent event aboard the vessel and that you have symptoms. A trained lawyer who has worked with seamen before to get Jones Act compensation can help you make your case and get well-deserved compensation for your suffering.