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Admiralty / Maritime Law

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Metairie Louisiana Maritime Law Blog

Maritime workers not covered by workers' comp have the Jones Act

Working on the open water is highly dangerous, regardless of what exact career you have. Whether you work on a barge or have a career as a longshoreman, your place of employment is risky, and the tasks you perform for your job drastically increase the potential for a serious injury.

Given that you likely work for a company or at least a vessel based in the United States, you might assume you have protection under domestic workers' compensation laws for any potential injury or illness you develop related to your work.

Workers on the ocean may get exposed to non-ionizing radiation

When people discuss or explore the various risks associated with maritime careers, the focus is usually on the risks posed by the ocean, storms at sea or similar environmental risks. However, the ocean itself is only one of many unique risks that maritime workers need to remain aware of and vigilant about.

Those working on maritime vessels can also wind up exposed to dangerous environmental factors that aren't as common for workers back on shore. Vibrations from tools and the motion of the boat can cause muscular and nerve symptoms, while the close quarters of maritime living situations can lead to increased risk of infectious disease and interpersonal conflicts.

Emotional and psychological damage can lead to claims

There are two sides to the perception of the seafaring mariner. There is the swashbuckling conquistador with a girl in every port.

And then there is the guy who is struggling to hold his domestic situation together at all costs. Or perhaps the one whose transitory lifestyle has never been conducive to any long-term relationships.

Don't let a missed diagnosis by your doctor slide

If your doctor incorrectly diagnoses your sinus infection as a cold, probably the worst you'll have to endure is an extra week of misery until you can get a course of antibiotics that will clear it right up.

The same cannot be said, however, if your doctor swings and misses on a cancer diagnosis. Those weeks without chemotherapy and/or radiation may be the window needed by the cancer cells to metastasize and cause the malignancy to transition to a far less curable stage.

Where have all the longshoreman jobs gone?

If you were around in New Orleans in the 1970s, the vibrant port city was teeming with longshoreman offloading and uploading cargo on the docks, and when on leave, drinking in the Decatur Street riverside bars.

Where have all the longshoreman gone, you may wonder, as you look around today and see very few signs of a once-thriving industry.

Maritime work can easily lead to a head injury

Offshore work of all kinds usually presents workers with constant dangers, from risk of drowning to injuries common when working with heavy machinery. For many people who make a living on the water, these risks are simply part of the job, which is never completely safe. However, when an employee suffers an injury on the job, it is important for them to receive proper medical care as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary suffering and to ensure that a small injury does not become a serious threat.

This is particularly true when it comes to head injuries. Offshore workers can easily receive a head injury they may not recognize, especially when weather gets stormy. Any significant blow the head can cause a head injury, which may result in a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that the victim does not realize they have. Without proper care, a mild TBI can quickly ruin a victim's career and personal life.

Is someone liable for your traumatic brain injuries?

We see clients at all phases of their recovery from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Regardless of the severity of their initial injuries, all face a long road to recovery. Some will sadly never fully return to the lives they once led prior to the accident that caused their brain injuries.

Whether your traumatic brain injuries were from a workplace accident, a slip-and-fall in a store or a catastrophic car accident, the consequences can be the same. Long months of speech, physical and/or occupational therapy where you may have to relearn how to walk, talk and perform all your activities of daily life (ADL) once again.

How can I help my signifcant other live with a TBI?

If you are the spouse or partner of a person in Louisiana who has experienced a traumatic brain injury, perhaps after a serious motor vehicle accident, you will know that life as you once lived it will be forever changed. The exact challenges that your loved one may face might be slightly different than someone else with a TBI but there are often types of tasks that present common challenges to people with TBIs. Learning how to work around these will be important for you and your partner.

Brainline notes that tracking time is one of the things often hard for a TBI patient to do. Using a timer or means of providing alerts at certain time stamps can help your partner stay on track and know when to move to a new event, activity or task. Many people find technology a great asset as there are apps to track time and also to manage appointments and daily activities.

Medical and mental health care needs for seafarers

Seafaring workers have a lot of stress to deal with on a daily basis. The nature of the job comes with many hazards that can make it hard to get through a shift. Knowing these risks should spur employers to take steps to ensure the safety of the employees physically, but also mentally. With the constant pressure of this type of work and the environment, a comprehensive plan must be in place.

Two of the most common issues that seafarers face in regard to their health is the difficulty receiving medical care for problems that come up while they are out to sea and the lack of mental health care during their time on the water. Together, these can lead to catastrophic impacts for the seafarer.

Should you worry about falling overboard?

As you may already know, working aboard a vessel can be dangerous. In addition to regularly dealing with complicated equipment and needing specialized seafaring knowledge, things like rough seas, equipment malfunctions and a slippery deck can make life at sea more hazardous than routine. One of the many dangers you and other Louisiana boat workers must face is falling overboard.

Man overboard situations are more common than many people may think. According to HowStuffWorks, about 100 passengers went overboard on cruise ships from 1995 to 2007. When you consider that cruise ships are designed to prevent people from easily falling off the deck, it can be sobering to realize the risk of falling overboard on smaller cargo and fishing vessels, which are designed for experienced professionals and not for paying passengers.

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