Maritime Injury?

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Maritime Work and Amputation Injuries

Though it is possibly one of the goriest injuries to imagine, it is not that unusual to envision an amputation injury in the maritime industry. Whether it is an amputation that happens simultaneously with the accident that causes, or it is something that comes about later due to an incident at work, there are so many ways that an amputation can happen when working onshore or on the waters. You may require a surgical amputation due to exposure or trauma, or it can be a catastrophic incident and the loss of a limb can be the direct outcome of an accident. (WebMD.com, 2015)

The unpredictable nature of the weather and open waters makes it easy enough to imagine a host of injuries that might lead to an amputation. Hypothermia and freezing conditions can cause tissue damage that requires an amputation at a later point in time, rough seas and improperly secured cargo or gear can crush a limb and cause amputation, even a fall from a dock can lead to a large vessel crushing or amputating a limb. However, in all of these examples, it is also possible for the situations to be avoided through safety standards and protocols.

There are maritime safety standards in place that seek to avoid just these types of incidents. The federal guidelines through OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) are designed to reduce the risks to those working in even the most hazardous fields. However, they are useless if employers do not train workers and enforce the rules.

Is the Employer Responsible?

Generally, the various maritime laws in place are meant to ensure that an employer takes all possible steps to protect those onboard vessels or working for their firm. When there is evidence that they have not done so, it becomes a question of negligence. If a maritime employee has suffered an amputation due to something that occurred out of employer negligence, they are due to compensation. This is true also if it is not the employer but the owner of the vessel, or another third party whose behavior led to the incident that caused an amputation to be necessary.

Now, that is probably something that would be overwhelming an exhausting to anyone who has recently undergone an amputation. This is a process that requires lengthy rehabilitation and recovery, and it is rarely a time when the injured person also wants to be chasing down proof that negligence led to the unhappy outcome. This is the job of a maritime lawyer who understands everything from the Jones Act to the Longshore Harbor and Workers’ Compensation Act.

For example, if it was a failure to perform regular inspections on equipment or parts that led to the incident that caused a worker to suffer an amputation, a qualified maritime lawyer will be able to pursue the case. The key is to work with an expert who understands when it is a case of negligence, and when the person injured is due to compensation.

Consider that an employer may be found negligent if they did not provide proper safety training prior to giving workers specific duties and tasks, if they failed to repair gear that is malfunctioning, if they did not adequately mark hazardous areas of a vessel, if they did not provide workers with a seaworthy vessel, or if they did not treat a surface with non-slip material when it should have been treated. Now, that is for those offshore, but there are other rules and laws that protect those who are in the maritime industry but who work onshore.

You don’t have to resign yourself to a mountain of medical bills and lost wages if your amputation was the fault of someone else. Turn to qualified legal expertise and you can quickly determine if you should pursue your case and seek compensation for employer negligence.