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Burn Injuries on Commercial Fishing and Shipping Vessels

Burn injuries can be life-altering for individuals working on commercial fishing or shipping vessels. Fires are the most common source of burn injuries aboard a vessel. Fires are particularly dangerous because evacuating a burning ship can leave crew stranded in the middle of the ocean. In addition to fires, other causes of burn injuries on vessels include:

  • Boiler room or engine room accidents,
  • Corrosive chemicals,
  • Flammable cargo,
  • Steam or hot water from pipes, and
  • Explosions.

Burns are classified by severity. They can range from minor problems to life-threatening injuries.

  • First-Degree Burns. First-degree burns are the least serious and damage only the outer layer of the skin. They result in red skin, swelling, and pain.
  • Second-Degree Burns. Second-degree burns damage both the outer layer and the layer underneath. Symptoms include red skin, splotchy skin, swelling, blisters, and pain.
  • Third-Degree Burns. Third-degree burns are the most severe and reach down into the lower layers below the skin. Symptoms include swelling, charred blackness, white areas, leathery skin, and nerve damage. Third-degree burns can be life-threatening.

Several different complications can arise from deep or widespread burns, including:

  • Bacterial infections,
  • Hypothermia,
  • Pulmonary edema (buildup of fluid in the lungs), and
  • Blood loss.

Treatment for burn injuries can be very expensive. Severe third-degree burn injuries often require skin grafts and multiple reconstruction surgeries with long and painful recoveries. Some burn injuries result in permanent disfigurement and an inability to continue work as a seaman. In addition, many burn victims suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you suffered a burn injury aboard a commercial fishing or shipping vessel, you should reach out to a qualified maritime attorney. Maintenance and cure benefits are available to all seamen that are injured while working aboard a vessel. The cause of the injury is not taken into account. Maintenance includes compensation for daily living expenses, and cure covers all reasonable and necessary medical expenses.

Many burn injuries on commercial fishing and shipping vessels are preventable. If the injury was caused in some part by your employer’s negligence or the unseaworthiness of the vessel, you may be entitled to additional damages. The Jones Act is the federal statute that allows seamen to sue their employers for negligence. Two examples of negligence include a failure to properly maintain and repair equipment and electrical systems and a lack of safety procedures and equipment. To be held liable under the Jones Act, your employer must have played some role, however small, in your injury. An experienced maritime attorney will fully investigate the burn injury and determine if your employer was at fault.

Kraft Davies, PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal injury law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing seamen who have suffered burn injuries against vessel owners, maritime employers, and maritime insurance companies. If you or a loved one were injured in a commercial fishing or shipping accident, contact the attorneys at Kraft Davies today at 206-624-8844 or through this website.