spinal cord injury

The Risks of Spinal Injuries Among Seamen

From hoisting full nets of fish onto the deck to repairing heavy machinery and navigating tight spaces, a seaman’s back is put under an enormous amount of strain every single day. It should be no surprise, then, that spinal injuries are fairly common. Unfortunately, a serious spinal injury could mean the end of a maritime worker’s career—and where does that leave their family?

If you’ve suffered a maritime injury, don’t wait to seek legal help. The team at Fuquay Law Firm boasts a long record of successful maritime injury claims, and we’re ready to use our experience to help you. Call our firm at 251-473-4443 to set up a consultation now.

How Do Spinal Injuries Happen?

Seamen report spinal injuries resulting from many different types of accidents. These injuries may be caused by:

  • Slipping and falling on an unmarked wet surface—even if you don’t fall, the twisting and strain needed to prevent a fall can cause an injury
  • Being struck by cargo
  • Being hit or suffering a crush injury under heavy machinery or equipment
  • Repetitive stress injuries caused by regularly lifting heavy loads or twisting yourself into uncomfortable or unnatural positions
  • Regularly lifting heavy cargo without proper safety gear or with poor lifting form

Spinal injuries may be immediately obvious for some—severe injuries often cause sudden, unmistakable pain. Other injuries build up over time, wearing away at the discs protecting your spine and slowly causing more and more pain.

Types of Spinal Injuries

Spinal cord injuries come in different forms. Injuries may affect the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. Incomplete spinal injuries are more common than complete injuries. Incomplete injuries still allow the affected body parts to function, but individuals may experience limited function or delayed function.

With an incomplete spinal injury, the brain’s ability to send or receive messages from the affected area may be impacted. This means that an individual may find it difficult to move the affected area or control the area’s movement, and physical sensation may be affected.

Here’s an example: the lumbar spinal cord controls the hips and legs. Someone with an incomplete lumbar spinal cord injury may struggle to ambulate as quickly as they once did, or they may find that there’s a slight delay between their decision to move their legs and their legs actually moving.

Complete injuries fully sever the spinal cord at the affected area. As a result, all sensations and functions below that point are entirely lost. This results in some level of paralysis. The higher on the spinal cord the injury occurs, the less function and mobility the individual retains.

You May Be Entitled to Compensation

If your injury occurred while you were working aboard a vessel or doing offshore work, you may be entitled to compensation. General maritime law allows injured workers to receive maintenance and cure, which provides medical treatment and payment for necessary living expenses. If you can prove that the injury was the fault of a negligent vessel owner or employer, you may be able to receive further compensation under the Jones Act.

The burden of proof is higher for a Jones Act claim—while you can receive maintenance and cure simply for being injured while doing maritime work, a Jones Act claim requires that you prove another party’s negligence. As you may imagine, a negligent employer or vessel owner doesn’t exactly make this easy.

If you think you have a Jones Act claim, it’s important to act quickly before valuable evidence is lost forever. This isn’t a workers’ compensation issue, so you’ll want to reach out to a maritime injury attorney instead of a workers’ compensation lawyer. While workers’ compensation is an area of law unique to each state, maritime law does not vary from state to state.

Reach Out to Fuquay Law Firm Now

At Fuquay Law Firm, we believe that injured maritime workers deserve fair and full compensation after injuries. A complete or incomplete spinal cord injury can completely change the course of your career and your ability to provide for your family, so make sure you get what you are owed. Set up a consultation with our team now by calling us at 251-473-4443 or sending us a message online.

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