People who work in the maritime industry are especially vulnerable to a traumatic brain injury due to the nature of their work. In the course of their duties, maritime employees face unpredictable conditions, whether they are working at sea or on the docks.

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

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.

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

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

If you sustained a 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, LLP can help you recover general and special damages. We represent injured maritime workers throughout the Pacific Northwest.

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 of 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. TBI results from an external force that alters brain function, and 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 for 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 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 could 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. TBIs require immediate medical attention and diligent follow-up care.

If you suffered a head injury at sea, Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP can help you recover for your injury. Your employer is responsible for ensuring you are evaluated by a medical professional after reporting an injury.

Contact an experienced maritime attorney at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP 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 TBI may experience cognitive, behavioral, and physical changes. According to the Mayo Clinic (a nonprofit health care provider 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:

  • 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 TBI 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 life 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 a 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 TBIs 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 —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. Families who provide care make enormous personal sacrifices for their loved ones.

If you suffered a TBI while employed in the maritime industry, you should not bear financial responsibility if the TBI was due to a negligent maritime company.

An experienced attorney focused on maritime injury law may be able to obtain damages for a TBI, 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 — 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. It was started by family members united by a determination to create a system of support for all Washingtonians whose lives are affected by TBIs.

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 TBI 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. The attorneys at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP will vigorously fight for your rights and strive to produce the most favorable outcome for your case, whether that means reaching a settlement or going to trial. We represent commercial fishermen and 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. We have obtained numerous favorable outcomes for victims of TBIs.

Contacting an attorney as early as possible during the accident investigation is the best way to protect your rights. Call Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, LLP today at 1-800-262-8529 for a free consultation. We have offices in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and San Francisco, California.