Maritime Slip and Fall Accidents

Working on or around water risks slip and falls due to the instability of surfaces. When this is combined with slippery surfaces, a difficult work environment becomes even more challenging. Unfortunately, slippery or cluttered surfaces on-board or nearby piers and docks are fairly common. In addition to the obvious slippery surface of water, there are other sources of slippery materials that can accumulate on walking surfaces. Common ship and dock culprits are oil and fish slime. It is nearly impossible to keep walking surfaces clear and dry. However, efforts must be made to reduce the risk of maritime slip and fall accidents.

Maritime work often involves workers pulling lines or lifting equipment. Trying to move an object that is too heavy can cause a person to lose their footing. Combine this with a slippery surface and there is a high risk of serious injury.

Another frequent cause of injury to maritime workers is equipment failure. Equipment regularly exposed to wind and water, especially saltwater, is more likely to fail than the same equipment that is protected from exposure. A snapped cable or line can cause a worker to lose footing and fall. The ricocheting end can also hit an employee nearby.

Injuries from Maritime Slip and Falls

Maritime slip and fall injuries are not just superficial. Falls can result in going overboard into the water, falling down a nearby stairwell, getting ensnared in cable lines and pulleys, or even getting electrocuted. The following have all resulted from a slip and fall accident:

  • Neck and spine injury, including paralysis
  • Head trauma, including mild concussion to brain bleeding
  • Broken bones
  • Internal injuries
  • Heart attack
  • Death

Employer Responsibilities

Even the best efforts cannot prevent every misstep and fall. However, maritime employers owe their employees a duty of care to avoid the risk of falls. Basic precautions that maritime employers need to take to prevent avoidable injuries include keeping workplace walkways, ladders, and platforms clean, uncluttered, and in good condition. In addition to these basic precautions, appropriate use of non-slip materials and grip bars at key locations are important to avoid dangerous slip and fall conditions.

Proper storage and placement of equipment is vital to keep work areas free from debris or unexpected items. In addition, employers must provide adequate training for their employees so that they are aware of how to safely operate equipment, use any necessary personal protective equipment, and how to implement emergency procedures.

What to Do If You are Injured

Consequences of a slip and fall may not be immediately apparent. It is important to protect your health and seek medical attention as soon as possible after the injury. If possible, make a record of the circumstances surrounding the slip and fall. Failure to obtain and record proper medical care could negatively impact your case and your ability to fully recover.

Maritime law, in particular the Jones Act, is intended to enable injured maritime workers to recover for costs of medical care and related expenses after a maritime injury when the employer is at-fault. The Jones Act helps injured maritime employees obtain needed compensation. Successful cases will cover expenses such as lost wages, past and future medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Injured maritime employees may also seek compensation to cover attorney’s fees under the act.

Maritime workers injured at work may qualify for compensation if they file a timely Jones Act claim against their employer and can prove employer negligence. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a related claim against the ship owner or operator may also be appropriate if the ship was not seaworthy. In addition, another form of Workers’ Compensation is also available to maritime workers, called maintenance and cure. Maritime workers do not have to prove fault by their employer for these claims. The specific maritime laws that apply will need to be determined based on an analysis of the facts of the case and are best determined by an experienced maritime lawyer.

Cape May Maritime Accident Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Advocate for Workers Injured in Slip and Fall Accidents at Sea

If you or someone you know was injured in a slip and fall accident at sea, contact an experienced Cape May maritime accident lawyer at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. today. Located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cape May and Wildwood. For a free consultation, call us at 888-999-1962 or submit an online form.