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Cervical Fusion Surgeries in Jones Act Cases

Neck injuries are among the more common injuries suffered by workers on commercial fishing and shipping vessels. More severe neck injuries may require surgeries, such as cervical fusion. Cervical fusion is a surgical procedure that fuses together damaged segments of the vertebral column in the neck, eliminating the motion between them and reducing pain. During the surgery, the discs between one or more of the vertebrae are removed, and bone growth is stimulated to link together adjacent vertebrae. A metal device may be used to stabilize the fusion until the bone growth is solid.

Cervical fusion surgery can help relieve neck and back pain caused by a number of different injuries, including degenerative disc disease, fractures, herniated discs, scoliosis, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis. Whether or not cervical fusion is right for you is a decision that you should make with your treating physician. It could take several months for the bones to heal and fuse together, and in some circumstances, future complications can arise, and additional surgeries may be necessary.

If you injured your neck while working aboard a vessel, you might be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal statute that affords seamen who are injured on the job the right to sue their employers for compensation based on negligence. An employer acts negligently if it fails to provide a safe work environment or use ordinary care to keep the vessel in a reasonably safe condition. For example, an employer may provide seamen with poorly maintained equipment or fail to clean spilled grease on deck. An employer is also responsible for the negligence of other employees or supervisors.

When a seaman brings a Jones Act claim, they must only prove that the employer’s negligence played some role, no matter how small, in causing the injury. If the court finds that the employer was at least 1% negligent, the seaman can recover damages. This is sometimes referred to as “featherweight causation” because the burden is so low.

An injured seaman can recover significant compensation under the Jones Act, including lost past and future wages, past and future medical expenses, disfigurement, pain and suffering, disability, loss of use of body parts, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of future earning capacity, costs of re-education or retraining, loss of fringe benefits, and lost pension benefits. The injured seaman may also be entitled to compensation under general maritime claims, like unseaworthiness and maintenance and cure. It is critical to reach out to an experienced maritime lawyer because Jones Act cases are complicated and very different from general personal injury claims.

Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal injury law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing seamen who have had cervical fusion surgery 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.