Maritime Head Injuries
Maritime workers work on many types of vessels, including oil rigs, fishing boats, barges and cargo ships, and they often do some of the most dangerous jobs anywhere under very difficult conditions. Sometimes the vessels they work on are poorly maintained and the decks of these vessels may be cluttered or slippery and the crews are sometimes shorthanded. Although most workers manage to do their job and not get hurt, they face a number of physical hazards as a normal part of their job, and among the greatest risks to maritime workers are head injuries. Whether it's due to a broken cable, a slip and fall, a piece of heavy machinery, being hit by a crane boom or a number of other hazards, head injuries are a real threat to the worker at sea.
Maritime Traumatic Brain Injuries
In many ways, a head injury, especially a traumatic brain injury, can be the maritime worker’s worst nightmare. After a traumatic brain injury, it is not unusual for the injured worker to seem as if they have returned to normal after a short period of time, when they're released from the hospital and return to work as if nothing happened before. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for that worker to leave the hospital in anything but normal condition. Quite often, the maritime worker may face either short-term or long-term memory loss, problems with their ability to focus and concentrate, and even personality changes; many of them end up suffering from depression.
In many cases, brain injuries don't last a long time, and the victim returns to normal within a few months, but many of those deficits persist for much longer periods of time. Once they have been present for a year or more, such deficits are considered permanent, and more often than not, the victim of a brain injury with permanent deficits or brain damage is not considered fit to return to his prior career as a maritime worker, the matter how much they love it. Unfortunately, and quite ironically, it is quite often impossible for such workers to appreciate this fact due to the damage that has been done to their brain. In many ways, they seem normal and they seem enthusiastic about going back to work, but they will not be as effective in their job as they were previously.
The fact of the matter is, traumatic brain injuries can leave those affected with long-lasting negative effects, including the inability to do their job, as well as their ability to function in normal society. Recent research has suggested that even relatively mild brain injuries, like a concussion, can end a career. Depending on the part of the brain that was injured, head and brain injuries can have a serious impact on cognitive functions, language skills or even emotions. Nearly half of all people hospitalized for traumatic brain injury end up with permanent disabilities that may have a negative impact on their ability to care for themselves or their families on a daily basis. There are programs available that can help, but it's important that those suffering from such an injury get the appropriate medical care and follow-up care. In many cases, research shows that traumatic brain injuries also increase the risk for developing Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and other brain disorders that affect people as they become older.
The Jones Act and Other Federal Laws Protect Offshore Workers
Thankfully, there are special maritime laws that apply to those workers who are injured or killed while working at sea. Among them are the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) and the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). These laws help provide maritime workers and their families an opportunity for recovery that requires a lower standard of proof than many other remedies available, but injured workers do have to take advantage of the remedies available to them, which requires an advocate in your corner who knows the law and has the experience to apply it to your situation.
Contact the Maritime Injury Attorneys of Blizzard Law
If you or a loved one is suffering the debilitating effects of a head injury and you work in a maritime industry, please contact the Maritime Injury Attorneys at the Blizzard Law PLLC as soon as possible, so that we can help assess your case and find out if you're entitled to compensation for your injuries.