Amputations and the Jones Act

Working on a vessel can be treacherous, as the ocean and weather conditions can be unpredictable. The use of heavy machinery and equipment can also be dangerous. Accidents may happen on oil rigs, barges, tugs, towboats, tankers and freighters. A maritime accident can lead to serious injuries. In some unfortunate cases, an amputation can result from a catastrophic injury.

An amputation occurs when part or all of a body part that is enclosed by the skin is removed. It can be complete, where the entire body part is removed, or it can be partial, where only a portion is taken off. Amputations are often done during surgery, but can also happen during an accident. An accidental amputation is serious and it is crucial to know what to do if such an event happens.

If you witness a fellow maritime worker experiencing an amputation, you need to seek emergency medical care immediately. You can help stop the bleeding by applying steady pressure to the injury site. The injured worker should lie down and elevate the site that is bleeding. Sterile dressing or a clean cloth should be wrapped around the injured area until medical treatment is received.

Shock frequently follows an amputation injury. The injured seaman may pass out, feel dizzy, lightheaded or weak and become less responsive.

The amputated body part should be taken to the hospital for possible re-attachment. It should be gently rinsed, wrapped in sterile gauze, placed in a waterproof container and put on ice. Re-attachment is possible depending on what body part was amputated, the condition of the body part that was removed, the time passed since the injury occurred and the health of the injured worker.

Depending on what caused the accident and amputation, the injured seaman may be eligible for compensation under the Jones Act or General Maritime Law. Under the Jones Act, employers are required to pay for maintenance and cure. Maintenance is designed to cover living expenses, while cure is meant to pay for medical care. The Jones Act also allows seamen to pursue monetary damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, both past and present, medical expenses, disfigurement and mental anguish, if the vessel owner was negligent in any way or if the vessel was unseaworthy. Contact an experienced Jones Act lawyer today to review your case. Our law firm will provide you with a free and confidential consultation.