Side Railing on a Large BoatFalls overboard are not only one of the most common kinds of injuries at sea, and they are also the most deadly. When these accidents happen, victims can claim benefits under the Jones Act for the costs of their injuries and lost wages, and may also pursue compensation for negligence and unseaworthiness.

Maritime Injuries Sustained in Falls Overboard

Crew members working on all types of vessels have a duty to follow rescue protocol when a seaman or passenger goes overboard. Once a person has fallen into the water, the ship must use all reasonable means available to retrieve him or her as long as the person could reasonably be found alive.

If crews are not properly trained or do not witness the fall, a seaman can suffer severe injuries such as:

  • Hypothermia. Depending on the temperature of the water and length of time before rescue, a seaman’s body temperature can fall drastically, affecting his or her ability to swim or even remain afloat.
  • Coma. A person who has been rescued from the water should receive adequate first aid to bring up his or her body temperature safely. If heat is not applied quickly, the person’s heart and brain may slow down considerably, resulting in a coma. If heat is applied to the extremities rather than the torso, chilled blood could rush into the victim’s heart, resulting in cardiac arrest.
  • Drowning. Seaman who are not provided with a personal flotation device (PFD) while working on deck are much more likely to drown after falling into the water. Family members should always investigate the wrongful death of a maritime worker to see if the accident could have been prevented.

If you or someone you love suffered an overboard incident, the maritime attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can determine who may be liable for your accident and what you are owed under the law. Call 1-800-3-MAY-DAY today to or download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.


Paul T. Hofmann
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Focused on personal injury, with an emphasis on maritime, railroad and construction worker tort claims.