MRI showing a frontal lobe brain injuryMaritime workers face multiple hazards and risks as they work aboard barges, cruise ships, container ships, oil tankers, and commercial fishing vessels. Even when safety precautions are taken, accidents happen, and seamen and women can be seriously injured. One of the most serious injuries a maritime worker can sustain is a traumatic brain injury. These injuries can have a lasting impact on the worker, leaving them disabled and preventing them from working and earning a living.

If you need help after a head injury at sea, the maritime injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can help you get all of the Jones Act benefits you are owed. Learn more about how these injuries happen at sea and how our team helps injured seamen.

Accidents at Sea That Can Cause a Traumatic Brain Injury

Experiencing a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have severe consequences for crew members on a ship. Maritime accidents that could potentially lead to TBIs include the following:

  • Slip and fall accidents. Wet decks, uneven surfaces, or cluttered walkways can cause crew members to slip and fall, resulting in head injuries.
  • Falls from heights. Working on elevated platforms, ladders, or masts puts crew members at risk of falling from heights and sustaining severe head injuries.
  • Falling objects. Unsecured equipment, tools, or cargo can become dislodged during ship movement, causing objects to fall and strike crew members' heads.
  • Sudden ship movements. Abrupt changes in the ship's movement, such as rapid acceleration, deceleration, or sudden stops, can cause crew members to lose balance and suffer head injuries.
  • Explosions. Onboard explosions can result in blasts or impacts that cause TBIs from the force of the explosion or debris being thrown around.
  • Entanglement in machinery. Crew members working with machinery are at risk of getting clothing, hair, or body parts caught in moving parts, potentially leading to head injuries.
  • Crew transport accidents. Accidents involving crew transfers between ships, using small boats or helicopters, can result in collisions or accidents leading to head injuries.
  • Heavy weather conditions. Severe weather conditions, such as heavy storms or waves, can cause crew members to lose balance or be thrown around, resulting in head injuries.
  • Violence and altercations. Conflicts or altercations among crew members can result in physical violence, including blows to the head that cause traumatic brain injuries.
  • Near-drownings. Deprivation of oxygen during a near drowning can cause permanent brain damage.

While proper safety measures, training, and protective equipment can significantly reduce the risk of these accidents and their potential for causing traumatic brain injuries, as an injured seaman, you are entitled to compensation regardless of how the accident happened.

Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a term that is applied to a range of specific head and brain injuries. In any of the above accidents, a maritime worker could sustain one of the following types of TBI:

  • Concussion. A concussion is a mild TBI resulting from a blow or jolt to the head, causing the brain to move within the skull. While many concussions resolve within weeks, repeated concussions can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), with symptoms like memory problems, depression, mood swings, and increased risk of future concussions.
  • Contusion. A contusion occurs when a direct impact to the head causes localized brain tissue damage and bleeding. This injury can cause cognitive impairments, personality changes, motor skill difficulties, and an increased risk of epilepsy or seizures.
  • Diffuse axonal injury (DAI). DAI is caused by severe rotational forces, which tear nerve fibers throughout the brain, potentially causing prolonged unconsciousness, profound cognitive and motor deficits, communication challenges, and the potential for coma or vegetative state.
  • Penetrating injury. This injury results from an object penetrating the skull and damaging brain tissue. Penetration of the brain can cause neurological deficits specific to the affected brain region, infection risk, chronic pain, cognitive and emotional impairments, and possible lasting psychological trauma.
  • Coup-contrecoup injury. This injury involves impact to the head that causes the brain to hit the skull's opposite side (coup) and then rebound to the original side (contrecoup), causing cognitive impairments, memory problems, motor skill deficits, emotional disturbances, and an elevated risk of epilepsy.
  • Hematoma. Hematomas are blood clots that form within the brain or between the brain and skull, potentially causing neurological deficits, seizures, communication difficulties, and risk of permanent disability.
  • Anoxic brain injury. Anoxic injury happens when the brain is deprived of oxygen, which can happen in a near-drowning at sea. Oxygen deprivation can cause severe cognitive deficits, motor impairments, memory problems, personality changes, and the potential for permanent disability.

If employer negligence was responsible for the accident that caused your serious brain injury, you need the help of a Jones Act attorney to get the compensation you need to cover your medical expenses and lost wages, as well as the damages you deserve for your employer’s negligence.

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