Fish processors who suffer carpal tunnel injuries while working aboard commercial fishing and fish processing vessels in Alaska are entitled to make claims for money damages under the Jones Act and the general maritime law. Benefits that may be recovered under Federal maritime law include payment of the injured crewman’s medical bills, therapy and surgery expenses, lost wages and lost earning capacity compensation, and damages for pain and suffering.
Even the strongest and toughest crewmen can suffer from carpal tunnel symptoms. The hands and arms of commercial fishermen and fish processors are frequently overstressed doing repetitive tasks aboard fishing vessels and fish processing vessels. Some fish processors may handle hundreds of fish in a single minute, doing repetitive tasks 16 hours a day and weeks at a time. The incidents of carpal tunnel injuries is very high among fish processor workers. Vessels must be designed and constructed to minimize the risk of crewmen carpal tunnel injuries. Workers who complain of carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms should be provided rest to prevent the increased risk of permanent injuries.
Symptoms that may indicate development of carpal tunnel syndrome include burning, tingling, and numbness in the hand, fingers, and wrist. The pain can be an intense shooting pain in the arm and hand that may impact the ability to sleep. Injured workers may have difficulty gripping objects and describe a clumsy feeling in their hands. Vessel foremen and managers must be trained to recognize carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive motion of tendons in the wrist. The overuse of these tendons can result in swelling; the swelling then constricts the median nerve. The constriction of the median nerve can result in the buildup of scar type tissue further pinching on the median nerve. Carpal tunnel symptoms can be acute and disabling.
Braces that prohibit movement of the wrist are frequently prescribed for crewmen suffering from carpal tunnel injuries. In serious cases, nerve conduction studies may be ordered to confirm entrapment of the median nerve. In some cases, surgery is necessary to release the pressure on the carpal tunnel nerve.
Unfortunately, some crewmen who suffer carpal tunnel injuries will have permanent impairment that will impact their ability to return to work in jobs requiring heavy use of their hands. The reality is that for some crewmen a carpal tunnel injury seriously impacts their ability to do their job. There simply aren’t many jobs aboard a fishing vessel or fish processing vessel that don’t require repetitive use of hands.
Crewmen aboard fishing vessels and fish processor vessels that suffer work-related carpal tunnel injuries are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits and to make claims for compensatory damages under the Jones Act. To learn about your rights to compensation under Federal maritime law, contact an experienced maritime lawyer to discuss your case.
Maritime injury lawyer James Beard has been representing injured crewmen, commercial fishermen, and fish processors for over 30 years. He understands the causes of carpal tunnel injuries and knows how proper design of the vessel and safe work rules can prevent crewmen from suffering carpal tunnel injury. The owner of every fishing vessel owes each of their crewmen a safe place to work. Crewmen with carpal tunnel symptoms should not be forced to continue working following the report of a carpal tunnel injury. If you have questions about your rights to compensation for a carpal tunnel injury that has occurred aboard a fishing vessel, contact James Beard and his partners at Johnson Beard & Trueb PC to discuss your claim at 1-800-621-1091. Beard is respected, trusted and successful.