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New York Maritime Law Blog

Seafarers' injuries require prompt treatment

When you get hurt on a typical job site, the foreman or crew boss might send you off to a local hospital or doctor's office for treatment, maybe a few stitches. But when you get hurt on a seafaring vessel, you're a world away from access to a hospital or doctor's office

What happens then? Data is scant on the health care options available for the over 1 million seafarers around the globe. In fact, it's such a problem that over the past decade, Yale University launched its own research on the treatment of the illnesses and injuries suffered by those toiling aboard ocean freighters.

Tips for staying safe while working on a barge

Working in the maritime industry can be one of the most rewarding careers. It is also one of the most dangerous jobs you can hold. Maritime accidents happen all too often, just like accidents on construction sites. If you are a maritime worker, it's important to do everything possible to keep yourself safe, especially when working on a barge.

Be sure you use every piece of safety equipment you are issued upon being hired. Don't skip one item or take one day off from wearing safety gear. If you are missing a piece of equipment, inform your supervisor immediately so a replacement can be issued to you.

How can the Jones Act protect me if I was injured at sea?

If you work in the maritime industry, then it's likely that you've heard about the Jones Act. This federal law's alternate name is the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. It is a piece of federal legislation that, among other things, protects seamen who are injured on the job.

Seamen are eligible to receive protection under the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA) largely because of the provisions that exist under 46 U.S.C. § 30104, also known as the Jones Act.

Beware of these accidents and injuries as a cruise ship worker

Working on a cruise ship provides the opportunity to enjoy a fast-paced environment while seeing the world. This is why so many people seek employment in this industry.

While it's easy to enjoy your job when everything is going as planned, it's not out of the question that you could suffer an injury.

Man dies after boat capsizes

Many in Manhattan may not understand the enormity of the responsibility they assume when they agree to take passengers out on their boats. The complexity that comes with even recreational boating makes it such that the simple use of a life jacket may not be enough to guarantee passenger safety. Given that most people who travel on a boat likely do not understand this, it is up to those who own and pilot these vessels to ensure that every precaution is taken. When that does not happen, the results can often be disastrous. 

This fact was on full display in a boating accident that occurred off the Florida Coast. Authorities responded to calls of a vessel in distress to find that the boat had capsized. While one of its occupants had escaped, the other was trapped in the cabin. Divers responded quickly to retrieve the man, and CPR was initiated the moment he was recovered. Rescuers were even able to get him to a local hospital, but despite these efforts, he later died. 

How can you cope with work-related depression?

You no doubt chose to go into the maritime industry because of a love of the sea (or perhaps you have developed one after years of working in such an industry). Yet despite your affinity for sea travel, you may experience times where being out on the ocean for extended periods can be emotionally and psychologically taxing. This is understandable; while at sea, your movements on your vessel are limited. You may suffer from a want of companionship (even while in the presence of your crew members). Consecutive days of seeing nothing on the horizon can also be unsettling. All of this can lead to a deep sense of depression. 

If you work in the maritime industry has led to your depression, know that you are not alone; according to the results of a joint study undertaken by Yale University and the Sailors' Society, 26 percent of professionals in positions similar to yours have experienced depression while at sea. Recommended coping mechanisms for depression include the following: 

  • Implementing a healthier diet
  • Being more physically active
  • Engaging with family and friends on a more frequent basis 
  • Seeking professional counseling

Cruise ship staff member could win $1.3 million settlement

An employee for Carnival Cruise won a legal battle against the company after it refused to provide him with compensation for spinal and back injuries he endured while on duty.

According to news reports, Genti Jankula, 35, was initially supposed to get an arbitration settlement from the company in 2018, but Carnival ignored the request because they claim the arbitrator wasn’t fair in handling the agreement.

New York's boating license requirements

Like many in Manhattan, you may not equate recreational boating to driving. Certain aspects of this activity may even seem to support your assumption. After all, there are typically not nearly as many boats on New York's lakes and rivers as there are on its roads, and it is not uncommon to bo out on the water and see a teen or even a child driving a boat. It is for these very reasons why so many of those that come to see us here at Tabak, Mellusi & Shisha LLP are so surprised to learn that people do indeed need to be licensed before they operate a boat. 

This fact leads to the inevitable question of how old you must be to obtain a boating license. According to Kalkomey Enterprises, children as young as 10 years old can obtain a boating license (technically referred to as a Boating Safety Certificate). Once they have taken required the required course, they are then allowed to operate a boat on their own. Children under the age of 10 can also operate a boat, but they must be accompanied by you or another adult. To operate a personal watercraft (e.g. a jet ski), one must be at least 14 years old and have a valid boating license. Anyone under the age of 14 is not to drive a PWC (even with adult supervision). 

Identifying common maritime injuries

A career in the maritime industry (whether that be working at sea or in a seaport), brings with it the opportunity for many unique challenges (which is why so many in New York City are likely drawn to it). Yet with the uniqueness of this particular career path also comes certain rules and regulations that are exclusive to the industry. Among these are the guidelines governing compensation for work-related injuries. Rather than being covered by traditional workers’ compensation benefits, maritime workers who have been injured on the job are entitled to maintenance (which helps cover everyday expenses) and cure (which offers compensation for medical bills). 

Yet is the maritime industry so dangerous that those working in it need concern themselves with the details? Statistics certainly seem to suggest so. Indeed, information shared by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (specifically the Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies), shows the rate of non-fatal injuries amongst maritime workers to be 5,015 per every 100,000 workers (which is double the average rate of the U.S. Workforce). Some of the more common injuries that maritime workers suffer include: 

  • Falling overboard
  • Asphyxia and poisonings in enclosed spaces
  • Chemical exposure and burns
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Slips and falls

Boat collision leaves several injured, one dead

Boating is likely considered to be a recreational activity by most in Manhattan. Because of this, few may view it as being potentially dangerous. Yet even boats and small watercraft are indeed high-powered motorized vehicles (in the same manner in which cars, trucks, and SUVs are). Thus, they are capable of causing devastation on the same scale as that seen in a car accident. Unfortunately, because boating is so often on a recreational basis, it often is accompanied by drinking. People who might never let the idea of driving their cars after drinking may not comprehend the dangers that may come with operating their boats while under the influence. 

Sadly, the results of such an action can be catastrophic. Authorities are trying to determine whether drinking (or other possible reckless activities) might have contributed to a boat collision in an inland bay in California. Officials responding to the scene of the accident initially found that one of the boats involved had left. Yet despite thoughts that the accident may have involved a hit-and-run, it was later revealed that the boat had left the scene because some of its occupants were injured and required medical attention. Its owners contacted authorities and cooperated in the investigation. In all, at least give people were injured in the collision and one young woman was killed. 

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