Maritime workers have a tough job that can be stressful and isolating, leading to clinical depression, anxiety and burnout. Moreover, a maritime worker who witnesses or is involved in a serious workplace accident can suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), either igniting or amplifying these mental health issues.
PTSD can make earning a living difficult to impossible, and maritime workers who suffer them due to on-the-job activities or incidents might want to pursue pain and suffering claims against their employers under the Jones Act.
The Jones Act covers many physical ailments, but does it also cover PTSD?
What is PTSD?
It is natural to feel a sense of “fight-or-flight” immediately following a traumatic event. Some people who witness or experience traumatic events experience this symptom, and associated symptoms like fear and anxiety, but these symptoms fade over time.
In some cases, however, people experience these symptoms for an ongoing period or do not develop these symptoms until weeks or months after the event and find they simply do not go away. These people might be suffering from PTSD.
To meet the medical definition of PTSD, a person must exhibit the following symptoms for at least a month:
- One or more re-experiencing symptom, for example, dreaming about the event or having flashbacks
- One or more avoidance symptom, such as changing routines to avoid places or objects that remind them of their trauma or holding in feelings about the trauma
- Two or more reactivity symptoms, such as always being on guard or suffering insomnia
- Two or more cognitive symptoms, such loss of memory regarding the event or blaming themselves for the event
People who suffer PTSD may need psychotherapy, medication or both.
The Jones Act and PTSD
A maritime worker pursuing a pain and suffering claim under the Jones Act due to PTSD might qualify for compensation. Under the Jones Act, seamen who are injured on the job have the right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
Case law has determined that such injuries include PTSD due to witnessing or experience a traumatic event at work.
If you want to pursue a personal injury claim following a maritime workplace accident, it is critical to buttress your claim with the right explanations and evidence. A poorly crafted argument can sink a case, so it is essential to ensure you are doing all you can to ensure your case is presented as strongly as possible.