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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Jones Act Cases

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can inflict anyone who experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, including seamen working on commercial fishing and shipping vessels. There is a high likelihood that individuals who work at sea will experience a stressful, life-threatening accident during their career, including falls overboard, vessel sinkings, collisions at sea or port, and machinery accidents.

PTSD presents several different symptoms, such as nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, depression, hypervigilance, detachment, avoidance of triggering situations, and irritability. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should reach out to a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist for treatment options. Under maritime law, you have the right to choose your own medical professional. Treatment for PTSD usually includes a combination of therapies and medication. Without treatment, PTSD can lead to severe depression, insomnia, and an inability to cope with daily life. Employers and insurance companies may try to downplay your injury because it is not physical, but PTSD is a legitimate health concern that can significantly affect your life and ability to earn a living.

After seeking medical care, it is critical to reach out to an experienced maritime attorney. Seamen who suffer from PTSD are entitled to compensation under the Jones Act if their injuries were caused by their employer’s negligence. The Jones Act requires employers to provide its crew with a reasonably safe place to work. Some examples of unsafe conditions leading to liability include improperly maintained equipment, a failure to train the crew properly, and a failure to provide the proper equipment.

To recover under the Jones Act, injured seamen only have to prove that their employer’s negligence played some role in their injury, however small. You can still receive compensation even if there were other contributing factors to the injury. This standard is a much lower burden than most personal injury cases and sometimes referred to as “featherweight.” Damages available under the Jones Act include mental pain and suffering, past and future lost wages, lost earning capacity, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses, and more. Receiving this compensation is critical for seamen suffering from PTSD who need ongoing treatment and may be unable to work.

In general, you have three years from the date of the incident to file your Jones Act claim in state or federal court. Sometimes PTSD symptoms do not appear until months or years after the event, which can complicate your case, making it critical to work with an experienced maritime attorney. In addition to the Jones Act, seamen may also be entitled to compensation under general maritime law, including the unseaworthiness doctrine and maintenance and cure.

Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC is a nationally recognized leader in maritime personal injury law. Kraft Davies has significant experience representing seamen who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder 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.