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Shoulder Injuries in Jones Act Cases

Shoulder injuries are among the leading types of injuries suffered by maritime employees working on commercial fishing and shipping vessels. Both accidents and the repetitive stress of lifting, pulling, tugging, turning, and hauling can lead to these injuries. Common shoulder injuries suffered by seamen include:

  • Dislocated shoulders,
  • Shoulder separations,
  • Tendonitis,
  • Bursitis,
  • Torn rotator cuffs,
  • Frozen shoulders,
  • AC joint injuries,
  • Fractures,
  • Amputations,
  • Brachial plexus injuries,
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome, and
  • Ruptured biceps.

Shoulder injuries range in severity. Some heal quickly with rest, while others may require surgery, long-term physical therapy, and permanent restrictions in motion and weight lighting. No matter the type of shoulder injury, you should report it to your employer immediately and get it looked at by a medical professional. Under general maritime law, you do not need to use your insurance company’s or employer’s medical provider. You have the right to see an independent physician that you trust.

If you are a seaman who injured your shoulder while working aboard a vessel, you may be able to recover compensation under the Jones Act. Among other things, the Jones Act gives seamen injured while working in the service of a vessel the right to sue their employers for negligence-based damages. Employers act negligently when they fail to provide a reasonably safe workplace. Employers are also liable for the negligent acts of other crew members. Most shoulder injuries can be prevented through proper training, equipment, and procedures.

To recover under the Jones Act, you must prove that your employer’s negligence was a cause of your injury. Examples of negligence include failing to properly train employees or follow industry safety customs. The negligence does not need to be the sole or primary cause of the injury. As long as the employer’s negligence played any role, however slight, you will be able to recover damages. This is a very light burden as compared to most other personal injury cases.

The damages available under the Jones Act are much more significant than the damages available under workers’ compensation. You may be entitled to lost past and future wages, past and future medical expenses, disfigurement, pain and suffering, disability, loss of body parts, loss of enjoyment of life, lost future earning capacity, costs of reeducation or retraining, lost fringe benefits, lost pension benefits, and lost vacation pay. In addition to Jones Act claims, injured seamen may be able to bring claims under general maritime law, such as maintenance and cure and the unseaworthiness doctrine. A Jones Act claim can be very complicated, so it is critical to work with an experienced maritime attorney to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.

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