Hypothermia is a very real concern for many maritime workers. This includes not only workers who dive in cold waters, but also workers onboard vessels, rigs and platforms that operate in dangerously cold conditions. Hypothermia can cause various complications, and workers who need help recovering should consult with a maritime hypothermia lawyer about their legal rights.
What Qualifies as Maritime Hypothermia?
Hypothermia is defined simply as having a body temperature that is lower than normal. However, most of the risks associated with hypothermia begin to arise when a person’s body temperature falls below 95 degrees. While our bodies are constantly producing heat, spending extended periods of time in cold water or air without proper equipment or clothing can cause body temperature to drop—and it will eventually drop to dangerously low levels.
Early signs of hypothermia include shivering, difficulty speaking, dizziness, confusion, and increased breathing and heart rate. If a maritime worker exhibits these symptoms, he or she should receive appropriate care promptly. In cases of mild hypothermia, this means taking off any wet clothes, going into a warm environment, and getting covered in warming clothing and blankets.
However, in some cases, these efforts might not be enough. If the body gets too cold, it won’t be able to restabilize on its own. If a maritime worker’s body temperature won’t go up – or if a worker’s body temperature falls below 95 degrees – then blood rewarming and other forms of medical intervention may be necessary.
How Can (and Should) Companies Prevent Maritime Hypothermia?
Simply put, there is no excuse for maritime workers to be exposed to the risk of hypothermia on the job. Companies that operate cargo ships, fishing boats, oil rigs, and other vessels and platforms should ensure that their workers have the clothing and equipment they need to stay warm. Vessel operators should also avoid entering treacherous waters when it is unsafe to do so—and particularly when workers on deck will be at risk for hypothermia.
What are Your Legal Rights After Being Diagnosed with Maritime Hypothermia?
If you have suffered maritime hypothermia, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Most maritime workers are covered by the Jones Act. This is a federal law that entitles seamen to no-fault maintenance and cure benefits, and it allows seamen to recover additional compensation when their employers or ship owners put them in harm’s way.
The costs of suffering from hypothermia can be substantial. Many workers will face long and difficult roads to recovery; and tragically, hypothermia can have fatal consequences in some cases. As a result, it is extremely important that maritime workers seek just compensation for hypothermia. If you think you may have a claim, you should talk to a maritime hypothermia lawyer right away.
Request a Free Consultation with a Maritime Hypothermia Lawyer
If you need to speak with a maritime hypothermia lawyer about your legal rights, we encourage you to contact our maritime injury lawyers promptly. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 800-468-4878 or tell us how we can reach you online now.