The ocean is the most hazardous workplace on the planet. The US has more than 400,000 employees in its maritime industry. It is found in almost every state. There are many jobs for maritime workers, including shipyards, marine terminals and fishing, aquaculture, seafood process, commercial diving, and shipping. According to the Centres for Disease Control maritime workers are at greater risk of injury and death than the average American worker.

Slips and falls, equipment failures, collisions and fires, as well as unsafe work practices and negligence can all lead to offshore injuries that require expensive medical attention, sometimes for the long-term. A worker may be unable to return to work after suffering catastrophic injuries. This can cause severe financial hardship for the family, especially if the worker is the only breadwinner or cannot earn a living.

Laws that cover offshore injuries are different to those that apply to workers on the ground and are not applicable to offshore injuries. We encourage you to contact an experienced offshore lawyer at Montagna Maritime Law immediately if you or someone you care about has been hurt or becomes ill while working offshore.

Types of Offshore Injuries

It is well-known that the work of a maritime worker can be physically demanding. There are inherent dangers in this job, which is far more dangerous than land-based work. Common injuries include minor, severe, and even fatal injuries. Minor injuries can often become more severe over time.

The most common offshore injuries are:

  • ic brain injury– There are many ways to sustain a TBI. Many offshore workers work in industrial and construction environments. Traumatic brain injury can be caused by a blow to the head, whether it is from a fall or slip, or even being hit by a slinging or unsecure cargo. This could cause permanent cognitive or personality problems.
  • Back and spinal injuries – Operating heavy equipment and carrying heavy loads can cause back pain. It requires standing, lifting, twisting and pulling for hours. Workers offshore can be injured by falling or being hit by cars or unsteady loads. An injury to the neck or back can cause chronic pain and limited mobility. In severe cases, paraplegia and quadriplegia can occur. Even if medical attention is given promptly, spinal and back injuries can cause long-term disabilities.
  • Slips & falls These injuries are some of the most common and serious. Slips and falls can lead to concussions, contusions, and broken bones. Slipping on the deck of a platform or ship can lead to you being thrown overboard. This is a potentially dangerous situation.
  • Hearing loss It is possible for workers to become more sensitive to noise over time if hearing protection isn’t required or provided. Tinnitus and total hearing loss can occur in certain cases where the work environment is too loud.
  • Amputations may be required if a person steps in the path of a truck, forklift or other vehicle. A prosthetic is often required in the event of the loss of a limb.
  • Broken bones and crushing injuries Offshore work often involves a large reliance on heavy machinery for construction or daily work. Accidents can occur when machinery malfunctions or safety procedures aren’t followed. Broken or crushed bones are common results of these injuries. Broken or crushed bones can cause damage to the internal organs, which can lead to life-threatening situations.
  • Frostbite and hypothermia Offshore workers often work in harsh environments at all hours of the day. Offshore workers often work in extremely cold environments, which can lead to hypothermia and frostbite. Exposed to water in extreme conditions or by falling overboard can increase the danger.
  • Drowsing A fall overboard could quickly turn into a serious injury that can cause death, particularly if it is not treated immediately. Hypothermia can also be an issue in warm waters.
  • Chemical injuries to the lungs – Workers can be seriously injured if safety procedures aren’t followed or enforced or accidents cause spillages. Inhaling these chemicals can cause severe and prolonged lung damage. Exposure to large amounts of these chemicals can be life-threatening in certain situations. Other cases can lead to smaller injuries that may become chronic or cumulative.
  • Every year, many offshore workers are killed in an accident on the East Coast of the United States. You have the right to claim damages for the death of a family member who has died due to negligence or an accident.


If it is considered catastrophic, a serious injury offshore could cause permanent disability. You may be eligible for compensation depending on the extent of your injuries and the circumstances surrounding them.

  • Loss of earnings – Injured offshore workers and their families may need to file a claim for lost wages. You can file a claim for damages if you are unable to work due to your injury.
  • Medical expenses If you have suffered serious injuries offshore, it is possible that your medical bills are mounting. It is possible to claim both future and present medical expenses. You may be eligible to claim costs for rehabilitation, physical therapy and mental health care as well as transportation costs.
  • Pain & suffering This can be broken down to the actual pain, the ongoing pain from scarring, disfigurement and other complications, as well the mental pain & suffering including mental anguish and anxiety and loss of enjoyment.

You are also entitled to Maintenance & Cure if you’re a Jones Act seamen. This is a fundamental right for all seamen. Your employer must cover your living expenses (maintenance), and your medical expenses (cure) while your injuries are being treated.

Offshore workers who don’t meet the “seaman” definition may be eligible for benefits under another federal law, the Harbour Workers’ Compensation Act.

Offshore injuries can cause death in the worst cases. The family of a worker may have the right to claim compensation for wrongful death against the responsible party.


It is crucial that you have an experienced maritime lawyer to represent you if you are injured in an offshore accident. Maritime lawyers are highly skilled litigators, who have a solid judgement and a deep understanding of maritime law and international agreements.

Maritime Law is a highly-skilled and specialised area. There aren’t many lawyers who can practice in this field as well as Montagna Maritime Law. For a free case evaluation, contact us today to speak with a maritime lawyer about your legal options.


Montagna Maritime Law can be found at 425 Monticello Ave Suite B in Norfolk, VA. Turn right towards Airport Rd, and then turn left at the first crossroad onto Airport Rd. Continue onto Robin Hood Rd, and then turn right onto VA-165 S. Next, take I-264W to St Pauls Blvd. Take exit 10 from I-2264W. Follow US-13 S through Taco Bell, which is on the left in 1.0 mi. Turn right and merge onto I-265 W towards Downtown Norfolk/Portsmouth. Then, continue on US-13 S past Taco Bell (on the right in 1.0 mi). Take exit 10 for City Hall Ave. Continue on St Pauls Blvd. Drive to Monticello Ave. Turn right onto St Pauls Blvd. Then turn left onto E Charlotte St. Turn right onto Monticello Ave. Montagna Maritime Law is on your right.


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