Have you sustained a knee injury while working offshore?
Rough seas, slippery decks, an environment that is crisscrossed with ropes and rigging: these factors contribute to slips and falls on vessels. Slips and falls on deck often result in serious knee injuries that leave a seaman unable to work for an extended period of time. In some cases, the injury is severe enough that the seaman will never able to return to his former job.
Knee injuries include any wound that damages the bones and cartilage that make up the knee joint or the ligaments and tendons that surround and stabilize the knee joint.
Serious knee injuries usually involve the cartilage in the knee joint (meniscus) or one or more of these four ligaments:
1. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
2. Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
3. Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
4. Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
Ruptures or tears in any of these structures can cause debilitating knee joint pain.
1. ACL Tear – The ACL holds the knee in place. It can be injured if the knee twists while falling. An ACL tear may be painless at first, but over time the pain will increase. It is common for victims of ACL tears to feel that their knee is giving out underneath them. Untreated, these injuries can cause significant pain and disability. If the knee is unstable, the injury victim may require knee reconstruction surgery.
2. PCL Tear – PCL injuries occur when a person falls to the front of their knees. The PCL is the ligament in back of the knee that keeps the knee stable. Damage to the PCL can result in swelling, severe pain, instability of the knee, and trouble walking. There may be the sensation that the knee has “popped”. Surgery is only required for severe tears; most injuries are treated with ice, rest and physical therapy.
3. LCL Tear – The LCL is a thin band of tissue along the outside of the knee that gives the knee stability as it moves. An injury to the LCL can occur if the inside of the knee is hit. Symptoms of an LCL injury include: the feeling that the knee may give way under stress and isn’t stable, locking or catching of the knee joint, pain, numbness or weakness, swelling and stiffness. Treatment of small tears involves rest and wearing a brace. More serious injuries may require surgery.
4. MCL Tear – The MCLkeeps the knee flexible and prevents it from over-extending. MCL injuries occur when the knee is hit on its side. If it is torn, there may be pain swelling and tenderness. The knee may feel like it will give out or it may lock or catch. The injury victim may have difficulty walking. Treatment usually involves immobilization of the knee followed by physical therapy. Surgery is rare.
5. Torn Meniscus – The meniscus is the cartilage in the knee joint that pads and prevents friction between the leg bones. The meniscus can be torn if the knee is bent and then twisted. When the meniscus is damaged, there is knee pain and the knee may stick or “pop”. Meniscus tears often occur in combination with other knee injuries and may require surgery.
If you have suffered a knee injury while working on a vessel or oil platform, you may be eligible for compensation under the Jones Act. For more information, read our article: “Your Offshore Knee Injury May Be Covered Under the Jones Act” or schedule a free case evaluation with the Louisiana maritime attorneys at The Young Firm. Contact The Young Firm at 866-938-5596 to make an appointment.