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Frostbite Injuries in Jones Act Cases

Maritime workers are particularly vulnerable to frostbite injuries because of their prolonged exposure to cold, wet, and windy conditions. Frostbite is caused by the freezing of the skin and underlying tissues when the body is exposed to low temperatures. It most commonly affects the fingers, toes, nose, ears, chin, and cheeks, although other parts of the body can also be at risk.

Symptoms of frostbite include tingling, burning, numbness, aching, discoloration, and a change in the skin’s texture. Frostbite can set in very rapidly. If you experience any symptoms, you should immediately move out of the cold, remove wet clothing, and rewarm the area. It is important not to allow the affected area to refreeze after warming, as this can cause worse damage.

There are varying degrees of frostbite depending on the part of the body infected, the temperature, and the duration of exposure. The injury can be superficial, affecting only the top layer of skin, or severe, penetrating deep enough to affect the muscle, tendons, and bone. Seamen who have suffered severe frostbite may have permanent loss of feeling in the affected area and require surgery or amputation to remove the damaged tissue. Amputation is life-changing and possibly career-ending for commercial fishermen and shippers.

If you are a seaman who has suffered a frostbite injury aboard a commercial fishing or shipping vessel, you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act. The Jones Act provides seamen who are injured on the job the opportunity to sue their employers for compensation based on negligence. An employer acts negligently when they fail to provide seamen with a reasonably safe work environment. Profits should never be put above their crew’s safety. Examples of negligence include a failure to provide proper protective equipment, improper training, and requiring excessive overtime. An employer is also held responsible for the negligent acts of co-workers.

Under the Jones Act, the injured seaman only must prove that their employer’s negligence played some part in causing their injury, however slight. The employer’s negligence does not need to be the sole or even primary cause of the injury. A maritime attorney will work to complete a full investigation of your injury to determine whether your employer acted negligently.

The compensation under the Jones Act is much broader than that available under traditional workers’ compensation. Damages available include lost wages, medical expenses, disfigurement, pain and suffering, disability, loss of use of body parts, loss of enjoyment of life, lost future earning capacity, costs of reeducation or retraining, and lost fringe benefits. Additionally, you may be entitled to compensation under general maritime law.

Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal injury law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing seamen who have suffered frostbite 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.