Working offshore as a seaman can be a very lucrative career. But just as it is profitable, it is also very dangerous.
Brain and head injuries are some of the most horrific injuries a seaman can suffer. They happen often in the maritime industry, and while some accidents are unavoidable, many others would have never happened had the employer provided their employees with proper safety equipment and training.
At Lapeze and Johns, you can always count on our Gulf Coast maritime lawyers to fight for you if you or a loved one should ever suffer an offshore accident.
We believe knowing is half the battle, so the team at Lapeze and Johns would like to provide you with following information regarding offshore brain and head injuries and what your options are to defend your rights.
Common Causes and Complications of Offshore Head Injuries
Offshore brain and head injuries occur for a number of reasons including but not limited to:
- An employer failing to provide safety equipment or a safe work area (i.e. missing railings).
- Objects/chemicals not being properly stored.
- Lack of slip and skid protectant which can lead to a slip and head injury.
- Outdated machinery (i.e. cranes or conveyor belts).
- Outdated equipment (i.e. broken stairs or old safety equipment).
There are two kinds of head injuries: open and closed. Open head injuries mean the skull was penetrated, while closed ones are when the head suffers a severe collision but does not open. Even though an open head injury sounds worse, the risks of a closed one are bigger because it is harder to diagnose.
Properly diagnosing a head injury is important to avoid complications which could permanently affect the worker. Some complications stemming from a brain or head injury include:
- Cerebral fluid build-up
- Blood vessel damage
- Chronic ear ringing
- Nerve damage
- Balance disorder
- Brain hemorrhaging
- Loss of one of the senses
- Memory problems
- Speech impairment
- Cognitive issues
The moment you suffer a head injury, it is important for you to demand to be taken back to shore to receive the proper medical attention you need. Brain injuries are a serious and terrible experience to go through, which might change your life forever, if not tended to immediately.
The “Maintenance and Cure” Doctrine and the Jones Act
As a seaman, you are protected by the maritime doctrine of “maintenance and cure,” which obliges employers to pay for medical expenses related to your brain or head injury. Your employer must also pay a daily living allowance until you reach “maximum medical improvement,” as well as cover:
- Emergency transportation
- Diagnostic testing
- Rehabilitation services
- Nursing services
However, if you believe your case should be investigated for negligence and there is proof supporting such a claim, then you could file a claim under the Jones Act. Winning a Jones Act claim means your employer must also cover the following damages (if applicable):
- Lost wages
- Loss of future wages
- Lost wage-earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Future medical expenses regarding the brain or head injury