Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that develops after a person experiences a particularly traumatizing event. For offshore workers, this can include a permanently-debilitating accident or witnessing a co-worker injured or killed at the workplace. PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder that has multiple symptoms, some of which are extreme enough to dramatically alter the course of someone's life. Some of those who are injured in the offshore workplace may be so debilitated by fear that they can no longer perform their job duties.
There are six main behaviors that can constitute a PTSD diagnosis. The first criterion is the initial exposure to a traumatic event. First of all, a traumatic event had to have existed. This can include an accident, near death experience, or the like. One of the other major side effects of PTSD is a re-experiencing of the accident. What this means is that victims may experience flashbacks, nightmares, or persistent thoughts about the accident, causing them to re-experience the event. Remembering these painful memories can be psychologically damaging.
Another side effect of PTSD is avoidance syndrome. This will appear as a numbing of the emotions. In order to cope with the emotional trauma, a victim may attempt to avoid all things that they associate with the trauma. For example, if a worker was injured offshore, then they may no longer be able to go near the ocean. Individuals may also avoid certain people or any type of emotion that might lead them to re-experience the pain of that event.
The last three major symptoms of PTSD are hypervigilance, social impairment, and prolonged duration of all the symptoms. Hypervigilance is an impairment that causes a victim to be "wired." They may not be able to sleep, they may have a heightened sense of anger, and they will likely have a difficult time concentrating. The emotional trauma must be significant enough to impact the individual's social relationships and everyday activities. Those who experience these symptoms for more than 30 days will likely be diagnosed with PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very real condition resulting from trauma, but it is not necessarily a physical impairment. Because of this, PTSD may be considered for non-economic damages. While economic damages involve physical pain and suffering such as broken bones and head injuries, non-economic damages deal exclusively with intangible harms such as emotional trauma, loss of enjoyment of life, and even pain. Because these are considered intangibles, there are limits ("caps") on how much can be awarded to a victim of PTSD. These are called non-economic damage caps, and they vary from state to state. This basically means that there is a maximum amount that can be awarded to compensate for non-quantifiable damages.
In addition to the physical trauma you may have suffered in an offshore accident, you may still be suffering from emotional damage. If you believe that you have PTSD, speak with a doctor. Arnold & Itkin is here to listen to offshore workers who were injured and are suffering from psychological ailments as well as physical ones. To learn more, contact our firm for a free evaluation. You may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages.
Arnold & Itkin represented nearly a third of the crewmembers injured in the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
Because maritime law is so complex and so complicated, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who has an in-depth understanding of how it works and who has proven themselves in similar cases before.