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Traumatic Brain Injury

People who work in the maritime industry are especially vulnerable to a traumatic brain injury due to the nature of their work and the unpredictable conditions in which they perform their duties, whether they are employed at sea or on the docks.

A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is defined as “an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force,” by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA).

A TBI can lead to a reduced quality of life, physical and mental impairments, the inability to work, and in extreme cases, coma or death.

Victims of TBI experience varying levels of recovery, but some TBI victims never fully recover. Even those who do recover might still be unable to resume previous activities, including employment in the maritime industry, for long periods of time, if ever.

Maritime Attorneys for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska

The attorneys at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC represent seafaring clients in a wide range of personal injury and wrongful death cases governed by maritime and admiralty law.

If you sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in an accident that occurred in the course of your maritime employment, you have the right to pursue compensation for the damages you incurred.

If your TBI occurred while you were in the service of a vessel at sea, in the harbor, or even on the docks, Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC can help you recover general and special damages. We represent injured maritime workers throughout the Pacific Northwest, including the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California.

Our offices are located in Seattle and Bellingham, WA, Portland, OR, and San Francisco, CA. Call us today at 1 (800) 262-8529 to schedule a free consultation and talk directly to a maritime attorney.


Information Center for Traumatic Brain Injury at Sea


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Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury in the Maritime Industry

Awareness about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has increased in recent years due to publicity about the alarming rate of TBI cases among professional athletes and soldiers who serve in the military. But because TBI results from an external force that alters brain function, any number of accidents in which a victim’s head is struck may result in TBI.

Working aboard a ship or at the docks is often grueling work that strains a person’s physical abilities. An unexpected wave, a slippery deck, or a swinging boom all have the potential to cause a head injury.

Not all head injuries result in TBI, but even seemingly minor injuries (such as when a head injury does not result in loss of consciousness) can cause a TBI. Many TBI victims do not exhibit any symptoms of TBI for many days or weeks after the accident and many people are released from initial treatment without knowing they suffered a TBI.

Certain types of accidents pose a high risk for maritime TBI, whether on a vessel at sea or in port. Some of the most common causes of head injuries and TBIs that occur in the maritime industry include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Crane accidents
  • Heavy equipment and heavy machinery accidents
  • Improperly secured equipment
  • Lack of safeguards or safety equipment
  • Loose or improperly stored cargo
  • Lack of proper personal protective equipment
  • Neglected or deferred maintenance of a vessel’s gear and equipment
  • Physical assault or battery
  • Slip and fall or trip and fall
  • Violations of safety guidelines or improper safety training

Any of these accidents may occur in the fast paced maritime industry. Some incidents involve human error, others involve faulty equipment. Both may indicate employer or vessel owner liability. Head injuries are always serious, because of their potential impact on the brain. Traumatic Brain Injuries require immediate medical attention and diligent follow-up care.

If you suffered a head injury at sea off the Pacific Coast or in the territorial waters of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, or California, or as a longshoreman in port or on the docks, Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC can help you recover for your injury. Your employer is responsible for ensuring you are evaluated by a medical professional after a seaman reports an injury.

Contact an experienced maritime attorney at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC to determine if negligence or vessel “unseaworthiness” caused or contributed to your injury. We can help you get the treatment you need.


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Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms

A person who sustains a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) may experience cognitive, behavioral, and physical changes, which are sometimes severe. According to the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit health care provider with campuses in Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona, and one of the world’s leading medical institutions, a TBI can have “wide-ranging physical and psychological effects. Some signs may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later.

Mild TBI Symptoms

Symptoms of mild TBI may include:

  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
  • No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual

Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth, or changes in the ability to smell, taste, or touch may also occur, as well as sensitivity to light or sound. Cognitive or mental symptoms may include memory or concentration problems, mood swings, or feelings of depression or anxiety.

Moderate to Severe TBI Symptoms

Symptoms of moderate to severe TBI may include any of the signs or symptoms of a mild TBI injury as well as the following symptoms which may appear within the first hours to days after a head injury:

  • Loss of consciousness for several minutes to hours
  • Persistent or worsening headache
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both eye pupils
  • Clear fluid draining from the nose or ears
  • Inability to wake from sleep
  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
  • Loss of coordination
  • Profound confusion
  • Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma

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Costs of Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery

A person who suffers a Traumatic Brain Injury in a maritime accident faces a future of uncertainty. The following questions are frequently asked by victims of TBIs:

  • Did the TBI cause irreparable damage?
  • Is surgery (or multiple surgeries) required?
  • Will I be able to return to the normal life of work and everyday activities that I pursued before the TBI?
  • How much of the costs of treatment, rehabilitation, and recovery are my responsibility?
  • How is my employer assisting in the wake of my injury?

Struggling to adjust to a new life after a TBI is often difficult and expensive, especially when the effects of TBI persist. Ancillary expenses related to the issues and adversities of a person who suffered a TBI add up quickly. The financial consequences may include:

  • Lost Wages or Permanent Job Loss — Many victims of TBI are unable to return to their previous jobs and some are unable to ever resume their careers due to their injuries.
  • Medical Costs — A TBI victim often undergoes expensive brain-related medical procedures. Costly medications and doctor and lab fees add up quickly.
  • Rehabilitation Programs — Rehabbing from a broken bone or a torn tendon usually takes a few months or even a year, but full function usually returns. TBI rehabilitation may require a lifetime of professional rehabilitative care and a full return to “normal” functionality may never occur.
  • Caregivers — Some TBI victims are unable to care for themselves and require full-time assistance from paid caregivers to attend to their most basic personal needs on a daily basis even if family members are available to help provide care. Families who provide care make enormous personal sacrifices for their loved ones.

If you suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury while employed in the maritime industry in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, or California, you should not bear financial responsibility when the TBI was due to the fault of a negligent maritime company.

An experienced attorney focused on maritime injury law may be able to obtain damages for a Maritime TBI Injury, including:

  • Lost wages, past and future
  • Initial payments for medical treatment and medicine
  • Ongoing payments for rehabilitation and caregivers:
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of life’s enjoyment
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress

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Resources for Traumatic Brain Injury in Washington

TBIWashington.org — TBI-related information is available at Washington State Department of Social and Health Services’ website. The Washington Traumatic Brain Injury Strategic Partnership Advisory Council, approved by the Washington State Legislature in 2007, consists of 25 members, some appointed by the governor and others who are agency members, to advise the governor, the legislature, and the secretary of the department of social and health services on TBI and related issues.

Brain Injury Alliance of Washington — (BIAWA) — From its offices in Seattle, Washington, the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington is dedicated to increasing public awareness, support, and hope for those affected by brain injury. BIAWA was originally founded in 1982 as the Washington State Head Injury Foundation by family members united by a determination to create a system of support for all Washingtonians whose lives are affected by Traumatic Brain Injury.

Centers for Disease Control — Traumatic Brain Injury — Find information and resources about TBI provided by the federal government’s leading national public health institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mayo Clinic — Traumatic Brain Injury — The non-profit Mayo Clinic is one of the leading medical service providers in the world and specializes in complex illnesses and injuries, including TBI. Read about the symptoms of TBI and find links to additional information about TBI and other types of head injuries.


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Find an Attorney for Traumatic Brain Injury in the State of Washington

Did you or your loved one sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury in Washington or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest while working in the maritime industry, either on a ship or at the docks?

If you suffered TBI as a result of a maritime accident, you may have a right to recover money damages under maritime law. Call Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC today to schedule a free initial appointment to discuss your case. Contacting an attorney as early as possible during the accident investigation is the best way to protect your rights.

Our offices are located in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington, Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, California. Call us today at 1 (800) 262-8529 to schedule a free consultation and talk directly to an attorney who is experienced in maritime and admiralty law.

We represent commercial fishermen, commercial divers, deckhands, barge workers, dock and shipyard workers, as well as passengers on vessels who suffered a head injury or traumatic brain injury at sea or on land.

The attorneys at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC will vigorously fight for your rights and strive to produce the most favorable outcome for you, whether that means reaching a settlement or going to trial. We have obtained numerous seven-figure outcomes for victims of TBIs.

Call Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC today at 1 (800) 262-8529 to start your path to recovering what you’ve lost.


This article was last updated on Tuesday, July 31, 2018.

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  • The Maritime Law Association of The United States
    The Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA) was founded in 1899. Its formation was prompted by the organization, some three years earlier, of the International Maritime Committee.
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  • Oregon State Bar
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