Recovering Compensation If You Suffer Rope Burn at Sea

Rope burns often result from the constant friction and abrasion caused by handling ropes and cables on a boat. If left untreated, these injuries can potentially lead to long-term complications. Our maritime injury rope burn lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer explains the legal protections available to injured seamen under the Jones Act and how we can fight for your fair compensation for a rope burn injury you suffered while working at sea.

What Is Rope Burn?

Rope burn is a form of friction burn that occurs when the rope repeatedly rubs against the same spot on your skin and creates heat that burns the skin. Friction burns have elements of thermal burns and abrasions. For maritime workers, rope burn injuries are often caused by friction and abrasion caused by handling ropes and cables.

The constant pulling, gripping, and rubbing of these rough materials can damage the outer layer of the skin, leading to inflammation, redness, and the formation of blisters or open sores. Friction burns are usually treated like other types of burns. You may be able to care for minor rope burns with typical first-aid treatments.

However, more severe rope burns require additional treatment. For example:

  • Second-degree friction burns. Burns of this severity may require wound debriding, topical medication, and skin grafts.
  • Third-degree friction burns. Third-degree rope burns are medical emergencies. You may require the same types of treatment as second-degree burns, but a hospital stay and more extensive treatment are likely.

How Rope Burn Injuries Occur at Sea

Rope burn injuries can occur in a variety of situations on board a vessel. Some common scenarios include:

  • Handling mooring lines during docking or undocking procedures
  • Working with cargo lines and rigging 
  • Pulling on fishing lines
  • Pulling on ropes or cables during maintenance or repair tasks
  • Exposure to saltwater or harsh chemicals, which can exacerbate rope burn injuries

The risk of rope burn increases when ropes and cables are wet, creating additional friction and abrasion. Additionally, prolonged exposure to the sun can dry out and weaken the skin, making it more prone to damage.

Signs and Symptoms of Rope Burn

Detecting rope burns early is crucial to prevent further complications. Some common signs and symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Redness and inflammation on the hands, fingers, or other areas of skin exposed to ropes or cables
  • Blisters or open sores on the affected areas
  • Itching or burning sensations
  • Dryness, cracking, or peeling of the skin
  • Swelling or tenderness in the affected areas

If left untreated, rope burn can lead to more severe complications, such as bacterial or fungal infections, scarring or permanent skin discoloration, and impaired mobility or dexterity in the hands or fingers.

Signs of infection may include redness or swelling, oozing pus, increased pain, and fever. Do not ignore these signs. An infected rope burn requires immediate medical attention.

Your Rights as an Injured Seaman

If you've suffered rope burn injuries due to employer negligence, such as a lack of proper safety equipment or training, you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act and other maritime laws.

The Jones Act provides legal protections for maritime workers injured during the course of their employment. Under this act, you could recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Additionally, maintenance and cure entitle injured seamen to receive reasonable medical treatment and living expenses while recovering from their injuries.

Consulting with our experienced maritime rope injury lawyer can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. At Hofmann & Schweitzer, we have the determination and experience to fight for your full compensation for your rope injury under the Jones Act.

We have successfully helped numerous injured seamen obtain the maximum compensation they deserve. For example, we were able to help an injured seaman recover compensation of $560,383.77 for pain and suffering in addition to maintenance and cure.  Read more of our case results to learn how we helped other injured maritime workers recover the compensation under the Jones Act.

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