The men and women who work aboard ships at sea do their jobs under the constant risk of injury and death. Psychological injuries often accompany physical injuries following a maritime accident. Even the toughest and strongest crewman may develop symptoms of PTSD. Under Federal maritime law, a crewman who suffers psychological damages such as PTSD is entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. The benefits include medical care, psychological care, and psychological counseling. Early diagnosis and treatment of a crewman’s psychological injuries is a key factor to his emotional and physical recovery.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is frequently triggered in crewmen and fishermen who have been exposed to traumatic and life threatening events. Crewmen who continue to experience stress and anxiety after the traumatic event has passed may be suffering from PTSD. These crewmen may continue to have recurring thoughts of the traumatic event, becoming tortured by reliving the event over and over. They may suffer from the inability to sleep and/or have nightmares. They may suffer from panic attacks or hypervigilance. The nature of these psychological injuries disrupts the crewman’s ability to live a normal life, return to work, and his ability to interact with others. Warning signs that a crewman may be suffering from PTSD include unusual irritability and anger. There may be recurring dreams of the event or near death experience. The crewman may be suffering depression and withdraw from social contact with his family, friends, and others. He may not be able to return to work. The PTSD victim may have continuing intrusive thoughts of impending death and in some cases may develop suicidal thoughts.
Maritime injury lawyer James Beard has been representing crewmen suffering from PTSD and psychological injuries for the past 30 years. He has extensive experience in representing crewmen who have survived the sinkings of commercial fishing vessels. Beard’s experience includes representing surviving crewmen from the sinking of the Alaska Ranger. Beard has also represented clients with psychological injuries from disfiguring injuries and amputations. He knows the importance of psychological counseling for injured crewmen who have suffered from brain injuries, burns, amputations and disabling orthopedic injuries. Utilizing the Federal maritime law and the Jones Act, Beard has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for his clients suffering from depression, post concussive syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, and anxiety disorders.
Most recently, Beard successfully represented an Alaska Crab fisherman who suffered a concussion from being hit in the head by a crab pot. Over the next 16 months, the crewman developed anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These psychological injuries led to the crewman’s attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head. The crewman survived the shooting with severe facial injuries and the loss of an eye. Beard was able to link the suicide attempt to the crab boat injury. A confidential settlement was reached in the case.
Crewmen suffering from PTSD oftentimes don’t understand their injuries. They may think their symptoms will just gradually go away without treatment or therapy. They may be too proud to admit they need help, and the idea of psychological therapy and treatment doesn’t fit their picture of who they are. In appropriate cases, Beard makes sure his clients receive proper psychological evaluation and treatment for their injuries. Without proper treatment and guidance, crewmen may turn to self-medicating with drugs or increase alcohol consumption to try to get sleep and escape the nightmare they are reliving. These types of psychologically injured crewmen need the support of their families and professional psychological and psychiatric therapy.
Beard understands maritime psychological injury and post-traumatic stress disorder claims. Far too often, the insurance company sends crewmen to doctors and therapists who have known biases and prejudices against PTSD claims. The vessel owner and insurance company don’t want to pay for psychological injuries to their crewmen, even where the evidence is clear.
If you feel you are being pushed back to work aboard a vessel before you are psychologically ready, you may need further evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist specializing in helping injury victims with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and/or depression. You have the right to choose your own doctor, and the insurance company must pay reasonable and necessary psychological treatment for your boat-related physical and psychological injuries.
Before being examined by a psychologist chosen by the insurance company, consult with an experienced maritime lawyer to learn about your rights under Federal maritime law. Tell your treating doctors about your psychological symptoms, ask for a referral to a qualified PTSD psychologist or psychiatrist. Beard helps his clients get proper psychological treatment. If you have been injured and are suffering from psychological symptoms, don’t be rushed into signing a settlement agreement that releases your right to fair compensation. Get legal advice from a maritime injury lawyer with experience in successfully handling post-traumatic stress disorder claims.
For a confidential and free initial consultation about your maritime injury case, contact James Beard and his partners at Trueb & Beard, LLC at 1-800-621-1091. Beard is always on the side of the injured crewman and never represents insurance companies or vessel owns. You can hire Beard on a contingency fee basis where Beard is owed no fees unless he successfully recovers compensation for you.