Maritime Workers and Shoulder Injury CompensationShoulder injuries are unfortunately common in maritime work. In addition to back and neck injuries, pain and problems moving the shoulder joint account for a large portion of lifting and repetitive motion injuries. If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder, there are a few steps you should take to protect your right to injury compensation and ensure that you get the proper care.

Common Causes of Maritime Shoulder Injuries

There are two ways a shoulder injury can happen while an employee is working on a dock or vessel. The first way involves a sudden accident, such as a barrel falling onto a worker’s back or a trapped arm pulling the shoulder out of socket. The second form of trauma is repetitive strain, or the daily lifting, pulling, and carrying required in a maritime environment.

Some of the most common causes of maritime shoulder injuries include:

  • Repetitive overhead motions (such as reaching, pulling, or stacking)
  • Winch or line accidents that forcefully “pull” the arm at high speed
  • Hyperextension of the shoulder or arm due to cramped or awkward spaces
  • Repetitive or improper lifting due to inadequate training
  • Slipping and falling on wet or uneven surfaces
  • Lack of proper safeguards to prevent injuries

Compensation Available for Maritime Workers Suffering From Shoulder Injuries

While some shoulder injuries heal with rest and non-invasive treatments, many require surgical intervention, physical therapy, and permanent weight lifting and motion restrictions. Workers are often unable to do the work they once performed, forcing them to seek other employment or collect disability payments to supplement their income.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be owed payment for your:

  • Medical expenses. Under federal laws, maritime workers are owed payment for medical bills and lost wages after a work injury. Harbor, dock, and shipyard workers can get payment for treatment and future costs through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), while sailors on ships, oil rigs, barges, and other vessels are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits under the Jones Act.
  • Past wages. Harbor workers and seaman may be unable to work for an extended period during their recoveries, and their compensation should include wage replacement.
  • Disability. After the arm is fully healed, the worker may be left with permanent damage or an inability to use the arm to its full extent. Short- or long-term disability payments can help make up for a reduced capacity to work and future lost wages.
  • Vocational retraining. If a person is able to do other kinds of work after the shoulder has healed, maritime injury laws may provide compensation for job retraining.
  • Pain and suffering. If the injury was caused by negligence or by unseaworthy conditions on a vessel, an employee can file a lawsuit to recover the costs of physical and mental anguish in addition to economic losses.

If you have been injured on a ship or as a harbor worker, we can examine which laws apply to your case and get you the maximum amount of compensation you are owed for your medical treatment and lost ability to earn a living. Fill out our quick online contact form or call 212.465.8840 to speak with a maritime injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer as soon as possible.


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