Accident and Injury Frequently Asked Questions

Many accident victims are overwhelmed by their injuries, and the thought of a legal case can seem daunting. At Hofmann & Schweitzer, our legal team understands these feelings, and we’ve compiled our thoughts on many common worries here to help you get started finding the answers you need to protect yourself and your family. If you’ve been hurt in a construction, maritime, or railroad accident, browse our FAQs today.

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  • How Long Does It Take to Get Hypothermia in Cold Water?

    The amount of time that it takes to develop hypothermia depends on the temperature of the water and the type of protective gear that is worn while in the water. Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

    The Timeline of Hypothermia

    Image of ice cold water depicting hypothermia risks for maritime workers

    Hypothermia can happen within minutes of falling into cold water, but the symptoms generally develop gradually.

    When the water temperature is 40 degrees or below, serious injury can result in as little as a few minutes. Even in water temperatures approaching 50 degrees, death can occur within the first hour of cold water immersion. Although your body fat, protective gear, and many other factors influence how long someone can survive in cold water, here are some general guidelines:

    • At a water temperature of 32.5 degrees, death may occur in under 15 - 45 minutes.
    • At a water temperature of 32.5 to 40 degrees, death may occur in 30 - 90 minutes.
    • At a water temperature of 40 to 50 degrees, death may occur in 1 - 3 hours.
    • At a water temperature of 50 - 60 degrees, death may occur in 1 - 6 hours.
    • At a water temperature of 60 - 70 degrees, death may occur in 2 - 40 hours.

    What Is The Typical Medical Treatment For Hypothermia After A Fall Into Cold Water

    Maritime workers are at risk for hypothermia when they fall into cold water. Hypothermia is a potentially fatal condition that must be treated quickly. If you, or a loved one, have suffered the consequences of hypothermia, then it is important to contact a New York maritime lawyer for more information about your rights.

    It is also important to know what to do as soon as hypothermia is suspected. If a maritime worker has fallen overboard into cold water, then it is important to immediately call for emergency help. Treatment can, and often should, begin prior to help arriving. For example, the person suffering from hypothermia should be moved to a warm, dry location, provided with warm blankets and a warm beverage, if possible.

    Once the worker is in the care of trained medical professionals, blood re-warming, warm IV fluids, and other warming techniques may be used to treat the worker.


    If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one due to hypothermia, then you may be entitled to damages. Speak with a New York maritime lawyer at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY today for more information.

  • If My Employer or an Insurance Company Offers Me Money. Do I still need a lawyer?

    If my employer, or an insurance company, offers me money after a New York maritime accident then do I still need to contact a New York maritime injury lawyer?

    A maritime employer, or the employer’s insurer, may offer you a settlement soon after your maritime injury. The settlement may sound good to you – especially if you are out of work and need money quickly to pay your bills and medical expenses. Some of these settlement offers may be made in good faith. However, not all of these maritime accident settlement offers will consist of fair and equitable compensation for your accident injuries.

    In order to know if the offer being made is fair and equitable given the specific injuries that you suffered, it is important to contact an experienced New York Jones Act attorney. A New York Jones Act lawyer not only knows what a fair settlement should be under the law, but will also fight for your personal recovery. Your employer and your employer’s insurer do not have a similar obligation to look out for your best interest. Instead, they may be looking out for their own best interests and that may be to get you to agree to a lower settlement amount.

    You have nothing to lose by contacting a New York maritime injury attorney, but you have a lot to lose by not contacting a lawyer. For more information, please call the experienced maritime injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY or 1-800-362-9329. We also encourage you to learn more about your rights and possible recovery in our FREE publication, The Legal Rights of Injured Seamen and Other Commercial Mariners.

  • What to Do After a Brain Injury on an Atlantic Fishing Boat

    What should I do when I am discharged from the hospital after suffering a brain injury on my Atlantic fishing vessel?

    Today may be the day that you have been waiting for. Today may be the day that the doctors are finally going to discharge you from the hospital and let you go home. It is a day to be celebrated, but you will soon realize that your journey toward recovery is still going to require a lot of work.


    What to Do Now

    The very first thing that you should to is celebrate. Today is a good day. It is the day that you are able to return to your family and your home. You deserve to relax and enjoy yourself.

    Tomorrow, however, there will be work to be done. Tomorrow, and in the days, weeks, and months following your return home, you will need to protect your physical recovery and your financial recovery. Specifically you can:

    • Keep getting the medical care that you need to recover to the maximum extent possible.
    • Follow your doctor’s orders—even when it is hard.
    • Talk to a lawyer about your legal options and how to protect your possible financial recovery. Do not rely on your employer to do this for you.

    These steps may not be easy to take, but with the help and support of your family, doctors, and lawyer, you may be able to recover from the brain injury you suffered on your Atlantic fishing boat.

    Want to Learn More?

    Please read a free copy of our publication, The Legal Rights of Injured Seamen and Other Commercial Mariners, and please contact us directly via this website for a personal consultation.

  • Employer Put Me at Unnecessary Risk on a New York Commercial Fishing Trip. What should I do if I’m hurt?

    I think my employer put me and my crewmates at unnecessary risk on a recent New York commercial fishing trip. What should I do if I’m hurt?

    If you are hurt after a New Jersey or New York commercial fishing trip, then it is important to get the medical care and legal help that you need. An experienced New York Jones Act lawyer can help you make sure that your legal rights and potential recovery are protected.

    Your employer has a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to protect you and your crewmates from reasonably anticipated dangers. A commercial fishing employer who does not take those precautions may have sent you on a voyage that was unseaworthy. If you are a seaman pursuant to the Jones Act, you may have a legal claim if your employer failed to provide a seaworthy vessel for your voyage.

    In order to protect your rights, it is important to consult a New York Jones Act attorney before trying to negotiate a settlement directly with your employer or your employer’s insurer. We don’t want you to worry about how you are going to pay your bills or get the medical care that you need. Instead, we want to help you get the recovery that deserve.

    For more information, please contact a lawyer at our New York maritime law firm. We can be reached directly at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY or 1-800-362-9329. We also encourage you to read our FREE publication, Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.

  • What if a Toxic Spill on Your Vessel Leaves You Injured

    Toxic Spill at Sea: How to Protect Your Recovery

    We often think of the devastating environmental impact of a toxic spill at sea, and those environmental issues deserve our attention. However, if you’ve been hurt because of a dangerous chemical or substance spill on your boat then your own concerns are more pressing, immediate, and personal.

    You Need to Know How to Recover

    On board a ship, you could be injured by any of the following toxic substances:

    • Gas, oil, or fuel
    • Batteries
    • Paint, solvents
    • Antifreeze
    • Hazardous waste
    • Other substances

    Regardless of which chemical or substance caused your injury you are going to need a plan to make a prompt recovery. After receiving first aid on your vessel, plans should have been made to get you to shore. Now that you are back on land, it is important to follow your doctors’ orders and to protect your recovery by:

    • Staying out of work as long as is necessary to heal. Do not feel pressured to go back to work before you have medical clearance to do so.
    • Getting the medical treatments you need. Do not let money prevent you from getting the necessary medical treatments.
    • Understanding, and protecting your legal rights. Do not jeopardize your recovery because you don’t know what you can recover. Instead, learn how to protect yourself. You can start by reading our free brochure, Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights .

    This won’t be an easy time in your life, but the steps you take now may make your future easier. Accordingly, we encourage you to:

    • Be honest with your doctors. Let them know exactly how you feel so that you can receive proper treatment for your injuries.
    • Watch what you say to your employer or his representative. Anything you say can be used against you and anything you sign may be binding.
    • Take steps to protect your rights. This may include contacting a lawyer to discuss your rights and legal options.

    While your employer may not be on your side, it is important to know that you are not alone. Your family, your doctors, and your maritime injury lawyer will help you so that you can get back to the life you want to live.

  • Recovering Fair Damages After a Lobster Fishing Back Injury

    I hurt my back while working as a commercial lobsterman off the coast of New England. Can I recover damages?

    Yes. You may be able to recover damages if you were hurt doing your job as a commercial lobsterman. The exact damages that you are able to recover will depend on the specific facts of your case.

    Don’t Jeopardize Your Recovery

    While the law may allow you to make a fair recovery for your commercial lobster fishing injuries, there are things that you should do to protect yourself. Specifically, it is important:

    • Not to give a signed or recorded statement—especially if you have not already spoken with a lawyer.
    • To see a doctor. You may be able to recover damages for your medical expenses, up to the maximum medical cure, and for your maintenance costs, such as food and housing, while your injuries keep you out of work. However, you will need to establish what those injuries are before you can recover damages.

    Additionally, it is important that you don’t agree to a settlement before talking to a lawyer or go back to work without clearance from your doctor.

    Instead, Protect Your Rights After a Back Injury

    You can protect your potential damages by seeing a doctor, following your doctor’s orders, and by watching what you say (or not saying anything) before you contact a lawyer.

    Your recovery is important. It may help end your pain. It may help get you back to work. Don’t play games with it; instead, learn more about your rights in our free guide for injured maritime workers.

  • Why You Should Call a Lawyer After an Atlantic Fishing Accident Injury

    Maritime law establishes what you may recover after an Atlantic fishing accident, but it does not guarantee your recovery. The law does not guarantee that the parties responsible for paying for your Atlantic fishing accident recovery will do so without being encouraged, or required, to do so.

    A Lawyer Can Make Sure Your Rights are Protected

    You do not want to risk leaving money on the table. If you fail to make a full legal recovery then you could end up in financial trouble when you have high medical expenses and little or no income due to your injuries. You can help prevent this from happening by contacting a maritime lawyer to help you make a fair recovery.

    Those responsible for paying your maritime damages have professionals working for them. Those professionals are hired to protect their rights and to make sure that they don’t pay more than they owe or pay frivolous claims.

    You deserve to have someone looking out for your legal rights and best interests. You deserve to have someone fight to get you the recovery that the law allows.

    Hiring a lawyer will not prevent you from returning to work as a commercial fisherman in the future. Instead, a lawyer will make sure that your rights are protected so that you can recover, to the extent possible, and return to work.

    For more information, please do not hesitate to call us directly at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY and to read our FREE publication, Are You a Seaman injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.

  • How Long Do I Have to File a Jones Act Case

    Generally, you have three years from the date of your maritime injury to file a claim pursuant to the Jones Act. However, there are several reasons why it is extremely important that you do not delay in consulting with a New Jersey and New York Jones Act attorney after your accident.

    First, it is important to consult with an attorney quickly because the Jones Act statute of limitations, or the time that you have to file a claim, may be shorter than three years in some cases.

    Second, it is important to consult with a New York and New Jersey Jones Act attorney quickly so that evidence is preserved and your case is as strong as it can be.

    Finally, it is important to consult with a New Jersey and New York Jones Act lawyer quickly so that you can get started on your road to recovery. Often, a maritime employer will not provide the damages to which an injured seaman is entitled until an experienced maritime lawyer requires the employer to do so.

    If you’ve been hurt in a maritime accident, please contact the experienced Jones Act lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer today. We can be reached at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY or via our online contact form.

  • What kinds of maritime accidents result in Jones Act claims?

    If you have a maritime job and you were hurt at sea then you may be wondering if the Jones Act applies to your potential recovery. The Jones Act does not define specific accidents that are covered by the law. For example, the Jones Act does not say that a seaman who slips on deck and breaks a leg can always recover damages. As a result, if you’ve been hurt at sea, it is up to you to figure out whether the Jones Act applies to your case based on the cause of your injury.

    The Jones Act: General Rules for Recovery

    The Jones Act allows injured seamen to recover damages for injuries that occur because of:

    • The negligence of the employer or another employee
    • A defect or problem with equipment that was caused by the employer

    The injury may occur while the seaman is working or while he is living on the boat.

    Accidents That May Be Covered by the Jones Act

    Some examples of accidents that may be covered by the Jones Act include those caused by:

    • Bad weather that should have been anticipated
    • An assault by another employee
    • Failure to supervise
    • Failure to provide medical assistance promptly
    • Failure to provide appropriate equipment for the job
    • Failure to make sure that equipment is in proper working order

    The injuries that may result include:

    • Broken bones
    • Head or brain injuries
    • Spinal cord injuries
    • Muscle, tendon or joint injuries
    • Internal injuries

    Of course these lists are not exhaustive. If you have been hurt and have questions about your potential recovery then it is important to consult an experienced Jones Act lawyer as soon as possible. Please start a live chat with us today to learn more.

  • What Should I Do to Collect Compensation After a Deckhand Injury

    If you are an injured deckhand then the steps that you take after your accident are very important to your ultimate recovery. There are three things that you should do as soon as you are injured. The first thing that you should do is to seek medical treatment for your injuries. The Jones Act Law does not require you to see a doctor chosen by your employer. You may be treated by any qualified doctor of your choice. Then, you should report your injury to your employer. However, you should not give a recorded statement or sign any papers without the advice of your New Jersey or New York maritime attorney.

    Finally, it is important to consult with an experienced New York and New Jersey Jones Act lawyer who knows how to investigate your case, negotiate with your employer, and pursue damages in court if a reasonable settlement cannot be reached.

    If you are a deckhand who has been hurt in a maritime accident, then you need to protect your right to potential compensation. Call the New York City maritime lawyers at Hofmann & Schweitzer today for a free consultation. We can be reached at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY.