U.S. Coast Guard Rescues Maritime Worker with Neck Injury


neck injury

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew airlifted a 28-year-old seafarer to the hospital after he suffered a serious neck injury.  The maritime worker was aboard an oil tanker when he reportedly slipped and fell.  The accident happened off the coast of San Francisco onboard the d’Amico product tanker High Progress.

Maritime Neck Injury Caused by Slip and Fall Accident

On May 8, 2019 the Coast Guard received notification that a seafarer onboard the High Progress had apparently fallen and suffered a serious neck injury during his workday.  The Coast Guard helicopter crew could not take off immediately because of “aircraft limitations.”  The watchstanders remained in constant contact with the High Progress in order to monitor the injured man’s condition.  The tanker stayed its course headed towards San Francisco.

At 4:20 a.m.  the following morning, an Air Station San Francisco MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew reached the oil tanker, which was still around 65 miles from the coast.   The helicopter crew successfully hoisted the injured man aboard and took him to Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, California.

Lt.  Andrew Bacon, Helicopter pilot at the Coast Guard Air Station in San Francisco, credited the quick reaction of the High Progress crew for the successful transfer of the injured man.  He said their early recognition of the severity of the neck injury and subsequent call for help was absolutely essential to the successful rescue of their crew member.  Had they waited any longer, the aircraft limitations the Coast Guard faced before they were able to dispatch the rescue mission could have proved fatal for the injured seafarer.

Neither the crewmembers nor the Coast Guard have released any information about the specific function the injured man performed aboard the High Progress, or the severity of his neck injury.

The Perils of a Maritime Work Environment

Maritime workers are no strangers to the risk of injury in the course of their work.   No matter what specific job a seamen actually performs on a daily basis, all maritime workers face risks.  Maritime workers are at risk of injury from:

The best protection against injuries is prevention.   Experienced seafarers who have spent any amount of time aboard a commercial vessel know that working safely is the key to surviving a maritime career.   However, the safest and most careful worker in the world cannot protect him or herself from slippery surfaces, malfunctioning equipment, equipment in poor repair, or other hazards that should not be present in a maritime working environment.

Maritime Neck Injury

There are a lot of different ways a maritime worker could suffer a neck injury while aboard a ship.   Maritime work can be lucrative, but it is notoriously dangerous.   A crew member could suffer a neck injury after a slip-and-fall, such as the man who was recently rescued off the coast of San Francisco, or they could suffer muscle strain or even a disc injury from repetitive heavy lifting.

In the isolated world of a ship at sea, recognizing a potentially serious neck injury quickly is key to health and recovery for the injured worker.   Examples of neck injury maritime workers can suffer include:

  • Muscle strain
  • Ligament damage
  • Whiplash
  • Herniated Disc
  • Neck Fracture (broken cervical vertebrae)
  • Spinal Dislocation

Neck injuries vary in their degree of severity, but all are a cause for concern.   More serious neck injuries can put a stop to a promising maritime career and prevent a worker from earning a living.

What to Do after Suffering a Neck Injury Aboard a Ship

If you experience a neck injury while on the job, seek medical attention as soon as possible.  Under the Jones Act, Maritime workers have the right to see a physician of their own choice about any injuries they sustained at work.

If you think your working environment contributed to your injury, be sure to tell your doctor that you are considering legal action.  A neck injury to the soft tissue, such as a sprain or a ligament injury, can be a little difficult to prove after the fact because such an injury will not be visible on an X-ray.

For a neck injury sustained in a maritime work environment, a physician should make note of:

  • Diminished range of Mobility
  • Pain
  • Any muscle spasms
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Any visible deformity or injury
  • Any way in which this injury will prevent you from doing your job

After any sort of injury in a maritime work environment, consult with an experienced maritime injury attorney to find out what your rights are under the Jones Act.

Types of Negligence Covered by the Jones Act

To be eligible for relief under the Jones Act, any injury must be caused by someone else’s actions or negligence.  Employers have a responsibility to properly train their seamen before allowing them to perform duties aboard a ship.  They also have a responsibility to maintain the work environment and keep equipment in good working order.

Examples of why an employer may be found negligent for a worker’s neck injury are:

  • Failure to provide workers with appropriate safety gear
  • Failing to post appropriate warning signs around hazardous areas or materials
  • Failure to prevent slippery surfaces on the vessel decks
  • Allowing seamen to work on a vessel that is not seaworthy

Help for Injured Maritime Workers

If you work on a commercial vessel, you know the dangers that you face every day on the job.  You may not know how crucially important it is to seek medical attention immediately after a neck injury.   If you have pain, discomfort, swelling, headaches, or other symptoms that last longer than one week, see a doctor.   These symptoms could indicate a more serious neck injury.

Maritime workers work hard for their living, and they value their physical health.   When you are injured due to your employer’s negligence, establishing a history of treatment from the very beginning is essential to pursuing a maritime injury claim.

If you have suffered a neck injury or any other type of bodily injury while working aboard a ship, you may be entitled to relief under the Jones Act.  Contact Maritime Injury Guide at 1-866-871-8422 to learn more about your rights.  You can also contact us online to schedule a free injury consultation.