An Indian harbour pilot has taken an unusual legal measure in the form of an admiralty arrest to obtain damages for injuries he claims have ended his shipping career.

Captain Shishir Nishikant Patange, a pilot working for the Deendayal Port Authority, has secured an arrest warrant against Fujian Shipping’s 44,700-dwt bulk carrier Jin Hai Hua (built 2012) in an extremely rare example of a ship being arrested over a personal injury claim.

Patange was dispatched to undock the Jin Hai Hua from the Deendayal Port Jetty on the afternoon of 4 March.

He claims that while mounting the ship’s gangway, it overturned and collapsed, which resulted in him falling off it and onto the wharf.

As a result of this fall, Patange’s left wrist was severely severed, crushed, and fractured.

The injured pilot was immediately rushed to a hospital for treatment, where doctors told him that there would be permanent loss of mobility in his left hand, even after surgery.

This injury, Patange’s lawyers told the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad, meant he was unable to function successfully as a pilot and his career as such was over, leading to a permanent loss of income.

Patange accused the Jin Hai Hua and its owners of breach of duty by failing to maintain proper rigging and monitoring of the gangway.

The 42-year-old pilot is suing the ship and its owners for INR 68m ($822,000) for pain, suffering and the loss of income he would expect to have earned until retiring at age 65. He is also suing for legal costs and interest.

Patange’s lawyers told the court that he is still assessing the full extent of the damages and reserves his right to increase the amount of the claim.

The lawyers also noted that as Patange was injured while on duty, the Deendayal Port Authority has taken responsibility for his injuries.

The port authority also instructed the Jin Hai Hua not to leave the port.

However, when applying for the vessel’s arrest, Patange said there was a danger the port authority may permit the ship to depart once investigations have been concluded.

Indian maritime lawyer Shashank Agrawal of SSA Legal told TradeWinds that the arrest of a vessel over a personal injury claim is almost unheard of, especially as the plaintiff in the case has to give an undertaking in writing to pay any damages that a court may award as compensation in the event of the defendant vessel sustaining any prejudice as a result of the arrest order.

However, Agrawal believes that the plaintiff in this case may have had no other recourse as the owner of the Jia Hai Hua is domiciled in China and it is uncertain when or if the ship would return to India.

The arrest will likely be lifted once security is lodged with the court by the ship’s protection and indemnity provider which, according to S&P Global data, is the UK P&I Club.