One of the greatest dangers a maritime worker faces while working on a vessel is the loss of a limb. Whether amputation occurs in seconds or is the end result of an injury aboard a ship, employees will be forced to cope with the physical, emotional, and financial burden of the incident for the rest of their lives.
Amputation Risks for Jones Act Workers
Winches, chains, hatches, heavy equipment, and other perils have the ability to cause the loss of a finger, hand, or entire limb within seconds. There are many ways Jones Act seamen can suffer an amputation injury, including:
- A conveyor belt catches a worker’s sleeve, pulling his arm into the machinery
- Swinging cargo falls from a crane during loading, crushing a worker’s foot
- A worker’s hand is caught between rollers
- A pinch point catches a worker’s fingers, severing them at the knuckle
- Your vessel collides with another ship, trapping your foot between two solid plates of steel
- A line snaps, sweeping a heavy load across the deck and into a worker’s leg
- A fisherman becomes entangled in a net, cutting off circulation to his arm for several minutes
Long-Term Costs of an Amputation Injury
The medical costs of amputation and living with a lost limb are often extremely high, sometimes reaching over $500,000 for lifelong care. Unfortunately, many workers are unable to return to their vessels or perform the same level of work they did before the injury, burdening them with high medical bills at a time when they are least likely to afford them. Some common costs after the loss of a limb include:
- Surgery to remove dead tissue, improve the appearance of the remaining limb, or prevent damaged nerves from causing excess pain
- Prosthetic limbs to restore lost function in the limb, encourage self-sufficiency, and allow a victim greater independence
- Home nursing care or a stay in a long-term rehabilitation center
- Physical therapy to increase circulation in the residual limb area, build muscle tone, improve coordination when using an artificial limb
- Gait training to improve limping, posture, walking speed, navigating obstacles, and moving around safely without exerting excessive energy
- Special diets to control or avoid additional medical conditions that can occur along with lost limbs (such as cardiac problems, infections, obesity, or diabetes)
- Psychotherapy to address the trauma of the loss and adjust to life without the limb, including PTSD counseling, peer support, or antidepressant medications
- Over-the-counter or prescription medications to help treat phantom pain in the missing limb or skin problems caused by prosthetic devices
- Stress-relieving techniques to help cope with the emotional pain of the lost limb, such as meditation sessions, art therapy, or yoga
Negligence Is Often a Factor in Amputation Incidents at Sea
Maritime workers have a right to a workplace that is as safe as possible. Unfortunately, there are many employers and vessel owners who fail to meet a reasonable safety standard. If your lost limb or amputation occurred because of the negligence of an employer, vessel owner, or a third party, you may be owed additional compensation in addition to benefits for your medical costs and lost wages.
These cases are extremely complex, and it’s important to understand your legal rights before you accept a settlement for your injury. Our maritime injury attorneys can examine your eligibility for compensation under general maritime law, the Jones Act, and other statutes to maximize payment on your claim.
You could pursue a negligence or unseaworthiness claim if we find evidence that your injury was caused by:
- Defective equipment or components
- Failure to perform regular maintenance
- Intentional installation of faulty or low-grade machinery
- Failure to properly train employees on the workings of machinery, safety procedures, or emergency measures after an accident
- Lack of sufficient navigation planning or execution
- Failure to avoid a collision
If you suffered an injury on your vessel that resulted in amputation, the dedicated legal team at Hofmann & Schweitzer can listen to your story and explain your next steps at no cost to you. Call us at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY or fill out our online contact form today to set up your no-obligation consultation. To learn more about these types of claims, start reading your complimentary copy of our guide, Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.