Common Maritime Injuries

Working on a vessel or an oil rig can be a dangerous proposition. Many people have been injured in the process of performing their duties at sea, but the federal government has laws in place that provide monetary compensation for their injuries. According to the Jones Act, seamen who have been injured on the job can hold their employers responsible for their injuries in a court of law. The first thing that injured seamen have to do is hire an offshore injury lawyer. A personal injury attorney will not be sufficient because an oil rig accident attorney, for example, has experience representing seamen who sustained injuries on an oil rig. There are many ways that you can sustain a Gulf of Mexico injury at sea, and some of them are listed below. Tripping and Falling It is easy to trip and fall on a vessel because the deck is often wet and cluttered with debris. If the vessel does not have adequate safety equipment, it is possible to fall from a high distance and be severely injured. Falling Overboard Falling overboard is even more dangerous than tripping and falling on the deck. Once overboard, workers are susceptible the effects of hypothermia, and some people have even drowned. When others endeavor to save the person who has fallen overboard, their lives are at risk because they can become entangled in the rescue gear being used and taken overboard as well. Falling Objects Objects tend to fall from a higher point on a vessel while the crew is loading cargo. Sometimes, tools and equipment can fall to lower levels due to negligence and injure crewmembers below. Enclosed Spaces Enclosed spaces are dangerous because they may not be sufficiently ventilated. Locations such as these include cargo areas where the air’s composition can be altered by the cargo itself. Workers may spend a great deal of time in areas where the oxygen content is insufficient, the air is contaminated with gasses that are toxic to human beings or the atmosphere is inflammable. When this is the case, seamen are in danger of being asphyxiated, poisoned or caught in an explosion or fire. Chemical Injuries to the Eyes, Skin or Lungs Seamen may be injured by the chemicals that are common in the cargo areas as well as by those that are used to clean the vessel. People working in an enclosed space may inhale fumes that cause damage to their lungs. If the chemicals come in contact with the skin or the eyes, they can have a corrosive effect on these delicate areas of the body. Thermal Burns The engine room is a likely place where seamen can receive thermal burns. These injuries happen after a fire breaks out, an explosion occurs or a worker is scalded by hot liquids. A total of 33 percent of thermal burns happen in the galley when workers are injured by hot fluids or other torrid objects while food is being prepared. Injuries during Fishing Expeditions People can be injured during fishing expeditions in many ways. A seaman’s fishing gear and the knives he uses to perform his tasks have been known to cause many injuries. When these types of wounds occur, they can become infected with organisms that are specific to the sea because the hands are constantly coming in contact with the water over long periods of time. Seamen have also been impaled by their fish hooks. Accidents during Ship Inspections When it comes time to inspect the vessel, a crewmember who has limited experience in diving sometimes tackles this job. Diving poses risks, but the fact that the diver is near a ship increases these perils. For example, due to sudden movements of the water, the worker can be thrown into the side of the ship as he works to clear the propellers of refuse. Working at sea means that you are performing your job in a hostile environment, and the ship or offshore oil rig owner is responsible for providing a safe working environment.