The U.S. Navy is mourning the loss of a junior-ranking sailor who suffered a fatal maritime injury after falling while boarding the U.S.S. Nimitz. The ship was in port at the Naval Air Station North Island near San Diego when the accident happened.
The sailor reportedly fell several stories from an aircraft elevator to the pier below while boarding the ship. The elevator had been lowered and was connected to a walkway. The sailor was taken to a nearby hospital, but died several hours later.
U.S. Navy officials say that they are investigating the cause of the accident. Accidents onboard ships like the U.S.S. Nimitz are fairly rare.
What Factors Increase the Risk of Falls?
While accidents like this may be rare on the U.S.S. Nimitz, fall accidents are a fairly common cause of maritime injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers slip, trip and fall accidents one of the most common causes of occupational injuries across industries. According to OSHA, around 43 percent of maritime worker injuries are related to falling.
Falls are a risk on ships for several reasons. Ships have many decks, close quarters, and the potential for slippery surfaces. Additional factors that increase the risk of a fall-related maritime injury include:
- Lack of non-skid surfaces
- Inadequate lighting
- Unmarked obstacles or hazards
- Improper planning of high points, guard rails, ladders or walkways
- Inadequate safety training
- Improperly secured cargo
- Inadequate guardrails or barriers
Of course, there are numerous factors that may lead to fall accidents. Other less-common factors include distractions and intoxication.
Fall Accidents a Cause of Maritime Injury
Falls are one of the most dangerous types of maritime injury. Fall accidents often result in injuries such as:
- Broken bones
- Torn ligaments
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Internal bleeding
Can Fall Accidents be Prevented?
An unfortunate reality of maritime injury accidents is that many are preventable. Ship owners and operators have a responsibility to make sure that ships are safe. Furthermore, they must ensure:
- The ship is seaworthy
- The ship has proper safety gear
- Crew members are properly trained
- Crew members have personal protective equipment if needed
- Hazards on the ship are addressed and corrected
- Hazards that cannot immediately be corrected should be marked and crew members warned
Of course, sometimes accidents are just that, and there is no way to prepare or prevent them. No matter what the cause of a maritime injury, what is most important is that maritime workers know they have legal rights.
Legal Rights For Maritime Injury Victims
If you work in the maritime industry and have suffered injury due to a fall, you have rights. The maritime industry does not have the same system for workers’ compensation that other occupations have, but that doesn’t mean you are on your own. There are maritime laws, like the Jones Act, which can help you get compensation for your injuries.
If your injury is due to the negligence of your employer, the ship owner or someone else, you may be entitled to damages, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Maintenance and cure
- Punitive damages
Compensation for these damages can help your family stay financial secure as you recover. If you have lost a loved one in a maritime injury, you may also be able to claim damages for your loss through a wrongful death claim. The spouse and children of a deceased maritime worker may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Funeral or burial expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
The best way to find out what sort of compensation you and your loved ones may be able to pursue is to contact a maritime injury lawyer.
Contact Maritime Injury Guide to Learn About Your Rights
If you or someone you love has suffered a maritime injury, Maritime Injury Guide can help. Our team of legal professionals can help you understand your legal rights and the options you may have for compensation. If you have an actionable maritime injury claim, we can help you prove your case and get the justice you deserve.
To learn more about your legal rights and maritime law, call Maritime Injury Guide to schedule a free consultation. Call us toll free at 1-866-871-8422. You can also complete our online form to request more information or schedule a free injury consultation.
There are time limits for filing an injury claim, so don’t delay in getting the help you need.