In March, a fisherman began working on a boat in Galveston that was filming a reality show on the National Geographic Channel called Big Fish, Texas. On the first day at sea, the fisherman received lacerations on his hands despite the fact he was wearing gloves. The lacerations became infected. While the production crew could have easily called the Coast Guard for help and sent the fisherman to shore, they instead allowed the infection to fester in order to film the ensuing drama for the TV show.
The crew tried to cut the infection with razors to drain the fluid, but this possibly made things worse. Two weeks later, the boat arrived back at shore and the man was finally able to seek medical attention. He ended up having a complete or partial amputation on almost each of his fingers.
Injured Fishermen Have the Right to Medical Care at Sea
When a fisherman is injured, they have the right to quick and proper medical attention under the Jones Act. Unfortunately, it is common for operators and owners of vessels to deny or delay medical attention in hopes the injury will simply go away and to avoid losing any time at sea. Operators have also been known to discourage workers from seeking medical treatment simply to receive a safety bonus.
Seeking medical attention should be the top priority if a fisherman sustains offshore injuries. Usually, all medical treatment sought for such injuries are paid for by the owner or the owner’s insurance company up until the injured fisherman reaches maximum medical improvement.
If you’ve sustained an injury while working at sea and have been denied medical treatment or compensation for medical treatment, it is important to consult with an experienced maritime attorney to make sure your rights are not violated.
Carolyn Latti is an experienced maritime injury attorney at Latti & Anderson LLP that fights for those who have sustained offshore injuries.