Working on a ship or elsewhere offshore can subject maritime workers to heavy physical forces. Maritime employers must be careful to prevent those forces from becoming unsafe. Lifting or pulling can be a common source of pressure on a mariner’s bones. However, more severe and unexpected forces may result from tripping, falling, being struck by a moving object, or even impacted by malfunctioning equipment. Any one of these forces could result in broken or fractured bones.
Bones are a component of the skeletal system which provide the solid frame upon which the rest of the body is built. The skeletal system is made up of not just bones, but also cartilage, tissue, tendons, and ligaments. Bones perform several crucial functions in the body, including:
Supporting weight and motion
Producing red and white blood cells
Protecting vital organs
These functions demonstrate why a broken bone may not be a simple matter. Maritime employers have a duty to act reasonably to protect their workers for bone breaks and fractures.
Some broken bones are easily recognized by loud cracking, misshapen appendages, complete separation of a bone, pain, or lack of mobility. Other fractures may be more subtle, demonstrating only numbness, tingling, and swelling.
Not all bone fractures are the same. Stress fractures are cracks in the bone, often caused by overuse. A stable, or closed, fracture is a complete break where the bone remains within the skin. An open, or compound, fracture is a traumatic break accompanied by an open wound through the skin. A displaced fracture involves a bone that breaks into unaligned pieces. A non-displaced fracture involves a bone that breaks but remains in alignment.
Diagnosis of broken bones becomes even more complex considering the types of fracture patters. These include:
Compression or Wedge
If you break a bone while working offshore or aboard a vessel, you should immediately report your injury and seek medical assistance. Common treatment for broken bones includes medical imaging, immobilization, and potentially surgery. Broken bones may be slow to heal—sometimes taking several months to mend completely.
The Jones Act and general maritime law may apply favorably to a seaman who suffers a broken bone while on the job. The seaman may be entitled to medical expenses, lost earnings, and even pain and suffering. That’s why it is important for a broken bone victim to contact an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible after an injury.
Mariner Law, PLLC uses offshore injury experience to assist mariners who have suffered broken or fractured bones while working at sea. Experienced maritime lawyer Adam Deitz can listen to the facts of your case and help you understand your options. If the vessel owner or maritime employer acted with negligence or allowed the seaman to work on an unseaworthy vessel, they may be liable for damages under the Jones Act and general maritime law. Mariner Law, PLLC can help you seek maximum compensation. Call for a free consultation: (253) 600-2531. The firm proudly serves mariner clients in Washington, Oregon, New York, Connecticut, Alaska, and nationwide.