What Benefits Can Maritime Workers Receive for Shoulder Injuries?

by | Jul 20, 2023 | Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, Maritime Accident, Maritime Injury, Maritime Law, Offshore Accident, The Jones Act

Working in the maritime industry puts a great deal of strain on the body. Shoulder injuries are one of the most common complaints among maritime workers. An unfortunate reality is that many maritime shoulder injuries could be prevented with adequate training, equipment, and safety gear.

It is important for maritime workers to know what their rights and options are if an injury occurs. In the below article, our maritime injury lawyer discusses common maritime shoulder injuries, the causes, and possible benefits for maritime workers. We also provide information on how a maritime injury lawyer can help you get the benefits you deserve.

Causes of Maritime Shoulder Injuries

Maritime shoulder injuries can have various causes, and they often result from a combination of factors related to the nature of work onboard ships and vessels. Some common causes of maritime shoulder injuries include:

Heavy Lifting

Maritime workers often engage in manual material handling, which may involve lifting heavy objects or cargo. Improper lifting techniques or attempting to lift objects that exceed a person’s physical capabilities can lead to shoulder injuries.

Repetitive Movements

Tasks that require repetitive motions, such as pulling ropes, operating equipment, or performing maintenance activities, can strain the shoulder muscles and tendons, leading to overuse injuries.

Awkward Postures

Maritime workers may need to work in confined spaces or assume awkward positions while performing tasks, which can put additional stress on the shoulder joint and surrounding structures.

Rigging Operations

Rigging activities, such as lifting and securing heavy loads, can be physically demanding and increase the risk of shoulder injuries, particularly when using manual methods.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Slippery decks or unstable surfaces onboard ships can lead to slips, trips, and falls, resulting in sudden impacts on the shoulder joint and potential injuries.

Vibration Exposure

Prolonged exposure to vibration from operating machinery or equipment can contribute to shoulder injuries over time.

Collisions and Accidents

Maritime workers may be involved in accidents onboard vessels, such as collisions or falls from heights, which can lead to traumatic shoulder injuries like fractures, dislocations, or tears.

Lack of Proper Training

Inadequate training in proper lifting techniques and safety procedures can increase the likelihood of shoulder injuries.

Fatigue and Overexertion

Long working hours, physically demanding tasks, and inadequate rest can contribute to worker fatigue and increase the risk of shoulder injuries.

Inadequate Ergonomics

Poorly designed workstations or equipment that do not consider ergonomic principles can lead to unnatural shoulder movements and contribute to injuries.

To reduce the occurrence of shoulder injuries in the maritime industry, it’s essential for employers to prioritize safety measures, provide proper training to workers, implement ergonomic practices, and conduct risk assessments to identify and address potential hazards.

Common Shoulder Injuries in the Maritime Industry

In the maritime industry, shoulder injuries can occur due to various factors, including heavy physical labor, repetitive movements, awkward postures, and accidents onboard ships or vessels. Some common shoulder injuries experienced by maritime workers include:

Rotator Cuff Tears

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint. Tears in the rotator cuff can result from repetitive lifting, pulling, or overhead activities, as well as sudden trauma or accidents.

Labral Tears

The labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket. Labral tears can occur from traumatic incidents, repetitive motions, or overuse, and they can cause pain and instability.

Dislocations and Subluxations

Dislocations happen when the upper arm bone (humerus) pops out of the shoulder socket. Subluxations are partial dislocations. These injuries can be caused by falls, collisions, or other accidents onboard ships.


Maritime workers may sustain shoulder fractures in accidents involving heavy equipment, falling objects, or slips and falls on wet surfaces.


Tendinitis occurs when the tendons in the shoulder become inflamed, often due to repetitive movements or overuse. Maritime workers who perform repetitive tasks, such as lifting heavy cargo or operating equipment, may be at higher risk of developing tendinitis.


Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa, small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the shoulder joint. It can be caused by repetitive motions or direct trauma to the shoulder.

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

This condition occurs when the tendons in the shoulder become compressed or pinched, often due to repetitive overhead movements. Maritime workers who frequently raise their arms above shoulder level, such as during rigging operations, may be prone to this injury.

Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Frozen shoulder is a condition where the shoulder joint becomes stiff and painful, often restricting movement. While the exact cause is not always clear, it can be linked to injury or prolonged immobility.

It is important for maritime workers to prioritize safety measures and use proper lifting techniques to minimize the risk of shoulder injuries. If a shoulder injury does occur, seeking immediate medical attention and following up with proper treatment can prevent long-term complications and ensure a smoother recovery.

Complications of Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries can lead to various complications, especially if not properly treated or managed. The severity of complications can vary depending on the type and extent of the injury. Some common complications of shoulder injuries include:

  • Chronic Pain: Untreated or improperly managed shoulder injuries can lead to persistent pain, which may become chronic and significantly impact a person’s quality of life and ability to perform daily activities.
  • Loss of Range of Motion: Shoulder injuries can result in stiffness and restricted range of motion in the affected shoulder joint. This limitation can make it challenging to perform certain movements and tasks.
  • Muscle Weakness: Injuries to the shoulder muscles or tendons can lead to muscle weakness, affecting the strength and stability of the shoulder joint.
  • Tendinopathy: Chronic overuse of the shoulder can lead to tendinopathy, a condition characterized by the degeneration and weakening of tendons, potentially resulting in ongoing pain and disability.
  • Nerve Damage: Severe shoulder injuries can damage nerves in the area, leading to symptoms such as tingling, numbness, or weakness in the arm and hand.
  • Arthritis: Injuries to the shoulder joint can increase the risk of developing shoulder arthritis over time, leading to joint pain and reduced function.

It is crucial to seek medical attention promptly if a shoulder injury occurs to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Early intervention and proper rehabilitation can help prevent or minimize complications and promote a more successful recovery.

Possible Benefits for Maritime Shoulder Injuries

The benefits that maritime workers can receive for shoulder injuries depend on several factors, including the type of employment, the specific circumstances of the injury, and the applicable laws and regulations. Maritime workers are generally covered under specific laws, such as the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which provide different types of benefits.

Here are some potential benefits that maritime workers may receive for shoulder injuries:

Medical Benefits

Maritime workers who suffer shoulder injuries may be entitled to receive medical treatment and care related to their injury. This can include doctor’s visits, surgeries, physical therapy, prescription medications, and other necessary medical services.

Disability Benefits

Depending on the severity of the shoulder injury and its impact on the worker’s ability to work, disability benefits may be available. Disability benefits can be temporary or permanent and may be categorized as total or partial disability payments.

Lost Wages

If a maritime worker’s shoulder injury prevents them from working or results in a loss of income, they may be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages. These benefits typically aim to provide income replacement during the period of recovery or disability.

Rehabilitation Benefits

In some cases, shoulder injuries may require ongoing rehabilitation and vocational training to help maritime workers return to work or find alternative employment. Rehabilitation benefits can cover the costs associated with such training and support.

Vocational Rehabilitation

If the shoulder injury prevents the worker from returning to their previous job, vocational rehabilitation benefits may be provided to assist in finding suitable alternative employment.

Maintenance and Cure

Under the Jones Act, seamen who suffer injuries while working aboard a vessel are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. “Maintenance” refers to a daily living allowance to cover basic living expenses while the worker is recovering, and “cure” covers medical expenses related to the injury.

The specific benefits available and the process for obtaining them may vary depending on the circumstances and the laws applicable to the case.

How Can a Maritime Lawyer Help after a Shoulder Injury?

A maritime lawyer can provide invaluable assistance to you and your family if you have suffered a maritime shoulder injury. At Kherkher Garcia, our lawyers help injury victims with the following:

  • Legal Advice and Guidance: Maritime law can be complex and may involve multiple statutes and regulations. Our maritime lawyers can explain your rights and potential legal remedies.
  • Filing Claims: Our maritime lawyers can assist in preparing and filing the necessary paperwork to pursue claims for compensation. This may involve filing claims under the Jones Act, the LHWCA, or other applicable laws.
  • Gathering Evidence: To build a strong case for compensation, evidence is crucial. Our maritime lawyers can help gather evidence to support your claim, such as medical records, accident reports, witness statements, and expert opinions.
  • Assessing Damages: Determining the full extent of damages in a maritime shoulder injury case can be complex. Our maritime lawyers assess the economic and non-economic damages you may be entitled to. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future medical costs.
  • Negotiating with Insurance Companies: Insurance companies may try to minimize the compensation paid to the injured worker. Our lawyers negotiate with insurers on your behalf to ensure fair and just compensation for your injuries.
  • Representing You in Court: If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, our maritime lawyers will represent you in court. We present the case as strong advocates for your rights.

A maritime lawyer’s expertise and experience in handling maritime injury cases can significantly increase the likelihood of obtaining fair compensation. Our lawyers provide much-needed support during a challenging time and work to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Get a Free Maritime Shoulder Injury Consultation

Maritime shoulder injuries are not only painful, but they can have a profound impact on your ability to work and support your family. At Kherkher Garcia, we are committed to helping maritime workers understand their legal rights and the options they have for benefits and compensation.

We are aggressive advocates for our clients, and will hold negligent employers, ship owners, operators, or other parties accountable if their actions cause you injuries. You can find out more about our services and how to get the compensation you need with a free consultation. All you have to do is call us at 713-333-1030, or fill out our online form.

Image by kjpargeter on Freepik.

Schedule a free Consultation

Steve Kherkher

Steve Kherkher

Founding Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Founding Firm Partner Steve Kherkher. Steve has been a practicing injury lawyer for more than 30 years. He has won $300 Million+ in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. He is a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom and the trial lawyer you want on your side if you or a loved one have been catastrophically injured.

Learn moreRead more articles