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F/V Atlantico Crew Member Suffers Back Injury

Atlantico1200x600U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders received a call on September 16th from the F/V ATLANTICO reporting that a 40-year-old crew member had suffered a back injury.

The Duty Flight Surgeon was consulted regarding the nature of the injury, and a medevac was recommended. The District 17 command center ordered the launch of an Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and aircrew. The injured fisherman was hoisted, transferred to Cold Bay, then transported to Anchorage to awaiting medical personnel.

“Good coordination between the Atlantico crew, command center personnel, and the Jayhawk aircrew attributed to our ability to successfully perform this medevac and get the injured fisherman to proper medical care,” said Lt.j.g. Lindsay Wheeler, a District 17 command center watchstander.

Weather on the scene was reported as 11-mph winds, three-mile visibility, and an air temperature of 49 degrees.

Causes of Back Injuries

Fishermen and maritime workers spend their days and nights loading and unloading vessels as well as tending to lines, nets, crab pots, cranes, and winches. Managing all this equipment as well as the physical demands can cause strain and trauma to the back and spine. Back injuries may also occur from slipping and falling on wet decks or being struck by cargo, cranes, or gear. Poorly trained coworkers and crewmembers in addition to unseaworthiness add another level of risk.

Types of Back and Spine Injuries

Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries are some of the most debilitating injuries sustained by commercial fishermen. Below is a list of the most common types of injuries.

Strains and Sprains- Moving and lifting heavy gear can result in sprains (overstretching) or strains (tearing) in the muscles and ligaments of the back. These types of injuries can cause severe pain and require adequate rest and medical treatment to heal properly.

Disc injuries- Slipped discs, also known as prolapsed or herniated discs, can cause lower back pain, numbness, and tingling in the shoulders, back, arms, hands, legs, or feet. Depending on the severity of the injury, your medical care professional will at the very least prescribe rest and physical therapy. Other therapies may include epidural steroid injections.

Fractured vertebrae injuries- Fractured vertebrae may result in painful pinched nerves, limited mobility, and even paralysis. Again, it is imperative that the injured crewmember seek medical assistance immediately.

Spinal cord injuries- When the spinal cord is damaged, spinal nerves below the injury are unable to send signals to the brain. Damage to the spinal cord can lead to paralysis, paraplegia, and quadriplegia. Unfortunately, damage to the spinal cord is generally permanent. Medical treatment is imperative to prevent further damage and to reach the highest level of recovery.

Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC is highly experienced in handling maritime claims involving injuries to the neck, back, and spine. They understand how accidents happen and how they can be prevented. If you have been injured while working aboard a vessel, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries under Federal Maritime Law. In almost all cases, an injured crewmember is entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. Your employer must pay all your reasonable medical bills related to your injury, and you have the right to choose your own doctor.

If your injuries are the result of negligence or unseaworthiness, you are entitled to damages to compensate you for lost wages, lost wage-earning capacity, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, as well as disability and impairment. Contact Stacey and Jacobsen, PLLC today to learn more about your rights and secure the compensation you deserve.

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