A slip and fall accident might seem minor, but as maritime lawyers, we often see that these falls leave seamen with serious, and sometimes, lifelong injuries. Last weekend, the Coast Guard was called in to evacuate a 52-year-old tugboat crewmember, who slipped and fell on a vessel off Winyah Bay in South Carolina.

Crewmembers were alerted to the seriousness of the condition when the man began showing signs of a cardiac arrest. The Coast Guard was then called in to evacuate the man to a medical facility.

Slip and fall accidents can occur just about anywhere on a ship. The movement of a sailing vessel means that crewmembers are constantly at risk of a fall. Every time a vessel hits choppy waves, or encounters adverse weather conditions, it can become unstable, contributing to a fall. Besides, a vessel deck may be slippery from water, grease, and in case of commercial fishing vessels, fish gurry.  Whatever the kind of slippery substance involved, the fall that results can be serious. A person may suffer from

  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Sprains
  • Head and brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries

Injuries to the brain or spinal cord can manifest themselves in a range of symptoms, ranging from lack of consciousness, convulsions, swelling and concussions to paralysis, coma and even death. When workers survive these serious injuries, they may find that they are left with impaired physical, mental and cognitive abilities. Spinal cord injuries, for instance, can leave a worker with varying degrees of reduced mobility and sensation, from paraplegia and quadriplegia, to numbness and reduced sensation and strength in limbs.  This can impact the worker’s current and future employment prospects.

We hope the tugboat crewmember here is getting the kind of specialized medical attention that he needs. Part of his rights include the right to cure, and this includes not just basic physician services, but also specialist care.

In the days ahead, a maritime lawyer may also want to know:

  • Were calls to evacuate the worker made on time? Or was emergency aid delayed?
  • Were working surfaces covered with grease or water, creating a hazardous environment?
  • In case of a slippery environment, had the worker been provided with high traction boots or other safety gear?

Please contact our experienced team of maritime personal injury attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers  for a free evaluation of your case.