Back injuries are one of the most common reason for missing work in the United States. After upper respiratory infections, back injuries are the most common reason people visit the doctor. At least one-third of these back injuries could have been prevented by better job design. This is especially true in the maritime industry. With heavy equipment, labor-intensive tasks, slippery and uneven surfaces, the maritime workday is filled with risks for back injuries. Most of these injuries can be avoided with the right precautions, equipment, and safety education.

Unfortunately, many maritime employers are negligent and don’t implement these important measures. If you work for a maritime company that has been negligent in preventing safety hazards and have suffered a back injury, it is important to consider contacting an experienced maritime injury attorney to assist you in fighting for fair compensation through maintenance and cure, the seaworthiness doctrine, and the Jones Act.

Bellingham, WA Back Injury Maritime Attorney

The experienced maritime injury lawyers of BOATLAW, LLP in Seattle, Bellingham, Portland, and San Francisco have decades of combined experience coast-to-coast with maritime law, personal injury law, and getting seamen like you the compensation you deserve for an injury sustained due to your maritime employer’s negligence. Their dedication is rooted in their personal passion for the maritime industry.

You are suffering enough with your injury; your finances shouldn’t also suffer for an accident that your employer could have prevented. For your free consultation on what BOATLAW, LLP can do to help you through your maritime back injury case, call 1-800-262-8529 today.

Maritime Back Injury Information Center

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Causes of Maritime Back Injury

When you work in the maritime industry in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California, you are constantly involved in and surrounded by risks of injury to your back – whether you work onshore or offshore. Additionally, not all back injuries are instantaneous. You may actually have an ongoing back problem from continued stress and not know it until the pain and injury are severe. The most common causes of back injuries to dock workers, seafarers, fishermen, and other maritime workers include:

  • Heavy lifting, especially with poor technique
  • Repetitive action
  • Slip and falls from wet surfaces, unguarded balconies, unsecured ladders, negligently marked equipment, etc.
  • Lack of fall protection equipment for high elevation tasks
  • Getting thrown by rough seas
  • Improper handling of mooring lines, tow lines, and winches
  • Equipment failure
  • Faulty vessel and/or vessel equipment design
  • Fatigue

The top two most common causes of back injuries are repetitive motion and heavy lifting. If a company fails to teach proper safety techniques to a person who regularly handles things like cargo, crab pots, and heavy machinery causing constant pulling, pushing, twisting, lifting, and other strain on the worker’s back, that person could suffer a severe back injury. The maritime company is negligent if it doesn’t teach proper safety procedures and technique or provide proper equipment, and they are most likely liable for your injury under the Jones Act or other maritime law.

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Types of Maritime Back Injury

The kind of back injury a seaman sustains depends entirely on the circumstances surrounding the accident. If you spend weeks, months, or even years making the same lifting or moving mistake due to the lack of training or back brace availability, your injury will probably involve a type of muscle, nerve, or bone strain or other deterioration. If you were involved in an accident that had a direct impact on your back, there are most likely fractures, tears, or breakage involved in your back injury. Some of the most common back injuries seen on seafarers, processors, longshoremen, and other maritime workers include:

  • Bruising of the skin, muscles, and bones
  • Muscle or nerve sprain or strain
  • Muscle tear or other tissue tear
  • Nerve damage
  • Compressed nerve or pinched nerve
  • Fractured vertebrae
  • Spondylolysis
  • Shattered vertebrae
  • Broken tailbone
  • Herniated discs
  • Cervical Radiculopathy
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

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Recoverable Damages for Maritime Back Injuries

Generally, when it comes to the Jones Act and other maritime laws such as the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, you have a right to recover damages to make up for most or all expenses incurred by your maritime back injury. This includes medical costs and potentially other expenses that accumulate from the injury, including your inability to work. Common damages recovered in maritime back injury cases include:

  • Rehabilitative therapy cost
  • Maintenance and cure (i.e. lodging, food, and medical costs)
  • Short-term or long-term disability
  • Lost wages
  • Cost of in-home care for severe injuries
  • Loss of consortium for injuries resulting in paraplegia or quadriplegia
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Mental anguish
  • Punitive damages in cases of gross negligence

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Additional Resources

Environmental Health & Safety | Back Basics – The factsheet was published by Washington State University. The information is meant as a preventive measure for back injuries. Also, the fact sheet includes information about proper lifting and lowering techniques, and tactics to help maintain a healthy back. Back injuries should be taken seriously and have the potential to “significantly impact daily activities.”

United States Department of Labor | OSHA – Follow the link to the “Back Disorders and Injuries” chapter of OSHA’s Technical Manual. The manual gives you information regarding back disorders, prevention, investigation guidelines, and more.

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Bellingham, WA Maritime Back Injury Lawyer

If you have experienced a back injury due to the negligence of your maritime employer in Washington, California, Alaska, or Oregon, or at sea in the North Pacific, Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, Inside Passage, or Puget Sound, it is important to review all of your options and strategies towards obtaining favorable compensation. Even if you are satisfied with what your maritime employer has offered you for the back injury you suffered on the job, have an experienced maritime injury attorney review your case to make sure you are receiving fair compensation for your injuries.

Our Bellingham back injury lawyers will personally look out for you and your family’s needs when it comes to compensation for your back injury. To schedule your free initial case review with BOATLAW, LLP, call 1-800-262-8529 today.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, February 26, 2020.