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Are there doctors on cargo ships?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2022 | Admiralty And Maritime Law |

You know that it’s dangerous to work on a cargo ship, as you could be injured in many different ways. Heavy machinery can be used to load and unload the ship, and you could be injured in the process. You may need to spend days, weeks or even months at sea, and you could suffer serious injuries in a storm. These are just a few of the risks that you face.

All of these risks are exaggerated because an injury could happen very far from shore. If you’re in the middle of the ocean when you get hurt, it’s not as if you can simply go to the hospital for medical care. A worker in a warehouse on the shore would have this option, but a worker on a ship is far more removed and isolated. Since it takes longer to get care, this can make injuries more serious and it can even lead to a situation where a survivable injury turns fatal.

As a result, you may be wondering if there’s going to be a doctor on the ship who will take care of you if you are injured on the job.

Merchant ships generally don’t have doctors

It is true that cruise ships and other passenger vessels do tend to have doctors on board, and these often prove very necessary, but merchant ships typically don’t. The crew is vastly smaller and they would never have to contend with the hundreds or thousands of people on a cruise ship, so it is not seen as necessary.

Instead, the captain and the other sailors aboard the ship usually have general medical knowledge and are able to provide some level of care to a person who has been injured. This may be greater than the level of medical knowledge held by the hypothetical warehouse worker noted above.

However, this still does not give you the same type of care that you would get from an actual doctor who studied medicine as his or her profession. There is a chance that your injuries could be worse if you’re injured on a ship and you can’t get medical care quickly.

What can you do?

If you have suffered some sort of serious injury on the job, it’s important to understand the Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and all of the legal options at your disposal.