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A near-drowning can end a maritime worker’s career

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Jones Act

Most maritime workers understand that their jobs are innately hazardous. Seafaring vessels have heavy equipment that is a potential source of injury. The ocean itself is also a constant source of risk. All it takes is a single misplaced step or a particularly large wave for a maritime worker to end up in the water. Particularly if an employee does not have a personal flotation device on at the time they enter the ocean, they are at risk of drowning or experiencing a near-drowning incident.

Other workers on the vessel may immediately act to rescue someone who goes overboard, but it can be several minutes before they recover someone who has gone into the ocean. The worker who experiences a near-drowning and survives may find that they can no longer continue and their chosen profession.

Near-drownings can cause brain injuries

Even if someone has a flotation device on when they enter the water, they are at risk of aspirating water or floating in a position where they cannot breathe properly. Especially if the injured worker is unconscious, the risk of oxygen deprivation is a serious issue in a near-drowning incident. After several minutes without steady oxygen supply, brain damage begins to develop. The symptoms possible after a brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation include cognitive challenges and motor function issues. Those symptoms might make it unsafe for someone to continue working in a maritime environment or could render them incapable of performing their typical job functions.

Near-drownings can traumatize workers

A worker who nearly drowns may lose their confidence when they attempt to return to work. Someone in a maritime environment generally needs to feel competent as they move around on the vessel. The second-guessing and anxiety that could follow a near-drowning incident could render someone incapable of safely performing their job functions. They may require counseling services to overcome their trauma and fear. In some cases, they may need to move to a different profession because of the trauma they experienced.

A maritime worker injured on the job can sometimes seek cure and maintenance from their employers. Pursuing a Jones Act claim could compensate a worker who has experienced financial hardship due to a near-drowning incident. Maritime workers who understand their rights can take appropriate action in response to an incident that renders them incapable of supporting themselves.