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March 17th, 2011

Maritime Eye Injury for Commercial Fisherman

A Coast Guard helicopter crewed medically evacuated an injured crewman from a fishing boat 50-miles south of Block Island on Tuesday.  The commercial fishing vessel crewmember reportedly suffered an eye injury in the evening of March 15, 2011.

The captain of the New Bedford, Massachusetts fishing vessel Atlantic Prince radioed in that a 26-year-old crewmember on board had suffered an eye injury.  According to the Coast Guard’s Maritime Information Exchange, the ship is a 63-foot “dragger” built in 1979.

The injured seaman was helicoptered to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was reported to be in stable condition.

Maritime Eye Injuries

Working as a commercial fisherman is a dangerous job.  In fact, it is listed as the most dangerous occupation in the United States, with an annual fatality rate of 142 deaths per 100,000 fishermen, 36 times higher than for other workers.  The reasons for this danger are many in number, and include unpredictable seas and weather, heavy machinery, equipment and tackle, lack of supervision and training, and more.

Commercial fishing boat crewmember injuries are common and sometimes even unavoidable.  When maritime injuries are caused by negligence, the injured seaman can pursue claims for money from their employer and other responsible parties under the Jones Act.

Eye injuries, while not as common as other types of maritime injuries, do occur and the outcome is often life-changing.  When a seaman sustains an eye injury from a maritime accident, it can sometimes lead to blindness and permanent disability.  Our fishing boat injury lawyers have handled cases where eye injuries for seamen have been career-ending.

Physical eye injuries are the result of an object, such as broken metal or glass, entering the eye.  Damage to eye by the trauma of a direct blow or penetration by a foreign body can be very serious.  The force of the hit can cause the retina to detach.  Wearing protective equipment such as goggles can help avoid physical eye trauma.

Somewhat less common are chemical eye injuries, which can occur when a seaman is exposed to chemical fumes or when a chemical comes into direct contact with the eye.  Chemical exposure to any part of the eye or eyelid can lead to a burn or injury.  Many facial burns or facial chemical contacts will involve an eye injury.  The degree of the eye injury or burn will depend on what the chemical was.

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