According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than 1,500 people died in a marine accident in 2017. Historically, this is a low number, and for maritime employees, deaths aboard freighters and other ships total less than 100. Instead, most deaths occurred on passenger ships.
The threat and consequences of death at sea remain obvious if you work on board a ship, but the perils of being lost at sea could seem even more abstract. No one is even quite sure how many people are lost at sea each year because the definition remains broad and the people out of touch.
The stories of people who survive their time lost at sea remain some of the most incredible in the industry. Although these stories remain far-fetched to most people who work in and around New York, they remain a stark reality for workers aboard ships.
Lost at sea can include:
- Being swept away at shore
- Being stranded due to an engine failure
- Capsizing or sinking
- Being taken by pirates
- Being injured by an animal
People who are lost at sea can suffer permanent physical and mental effects due to the stress of surviving these incidents. People who are injured at sea can experience many of the same injuries common among survivors including:
- Broken bones and spinal cord injuries
- Electrocution and burns
- Poisoning from animals or vegetation
- Animal bites or stings
- Extreme hypothermia or heat stroke
People can be lost for hours, days or weeks on end, but most often, they are found by a passing vessel after issuing a distress call. Because these cases are rare but extraordinary, the compensation you could be entitled to as a maritime worker is difficult to determine, but the Longshore Act and Jones Act do offer some guidance for payment schedules, procedures and eligibility. Ultimately, compensation could be determined by past case results and the ability of the people around you to advocate for you and the interests of your family following your time away.
Lost at sea incidents remain rare, though difficult to track across the industry. Understanding the care a person needs afterward and solving the complexities of compensation requires the knowledge of medical and legal professionals who are uniquely focused on maritime law.