If you’ve been working in the maritime industry for any length of time, then you know that kind of work demands your best. Even if you do your job perfectly, there is no guarantee that you will be insulated from the inherent danger of maritime work.
In the event that you do get injured, you should file an accident report immediately. Don’t wait until the end of your shift—notify the captain as soon as it happens. Fill out the necessary paperwork as soon as possible so that you document events while they are fresh in your mind.
You may not want to admit that you have been injured and your ability to perform your duties has been compromised, but it is in your best interest to immediately tell your superiors.
If you wait, then insurance companies may argue that the injury was not as serious as you claim or not related to your job.
Before you make any statement to an insurance adjuster or sign any agreement, however, it’s best to talk to a seasoned maritime attorney like George Vourvoulias who has handled offshore accident cases in New Orleans, Louisiana and throughout the Gulf Coast.
What to Do If You Are Injured Offshore
If you suffer an injury aboard a maritime vessel, stop working immediately and tell the master of the vessel or your direct supervisor.
You may already know what the emergency protocols are in case of an injury. You should follow the protocol if you can; if you are unable or don’t remember it, alert your supervisor who should guide you through the procedure.
Your first priority should, of course, be to prevent any additional harm to yourself or your crew due to your injury. If you have access to your own medical professionals, visit them to get treatment. Ask to go to your own doctor as that is your right. Company doctors will many times shards things in favor of the boat owner and against you.
While you are being treated, go back over in your mind the events that caused the injury. Note the time, environmental conditions and location when the injury occurred. Do your best to remember if there were any special circumstances like someone not following the handbook, an unseaworthy condition, malfunctioning equipment or rough seas.
If you have the time and ability, take photos of the area where the injury occurred. Be sure to note if there were any witnesses and get their contact information if possible.
As soon as you are able, fill out and submit your accident report forms. Do not wait until you are off the boat as that may be interpreted as proof that your injuries did not occur on the boat, were not that serious or that you were exaggerating the severity.
Similarly, you should not return to your job until you’ve head a chance to consult with a doctor of your own choosing—rather than the company doctor. Many company doctors will rush you back to work to limit the boat owner’s requirement to have to pay maintenance and cure.
Traps to Avoid in a Maritime Injury Case
You may believe that your employer is on your side, especially if you are a good worker.
Unfortunately, that can change once they believe that they can be the target of a lawsuit. At that point, the insurance companies and their lawyers will start considering you an adversary and pull out every trick they have to minimize their liability.
Here’s some things to keep in mind:
- Don’t talk to insurers alone—one of the things your employer’s insurers is likely to do is ask you to come in for an interview. They will attempt to get you to lie or embellish which may make filing a claim difficult or impossible. If you want to talk to the other side, always do so with your lawyer present.
- See your own doctor—many maritime companies will try to send you to a physician on their payroll so that they can get a favorable evaluation. Instead, get your care from an independent physician.
- Hire an attorney—one of the biggest mistakes is thinking you can manage an injury claim on your own. You need an experienced maritime attorney so that you don’t fall victim to a ploy that the insurance companies try to pull.
Contact the Maritime Injury Law Firm Today
George Vourvoulias has decades of experience as a maritime injury attorney in New Orleans, Louisiana. With the Maritime Injury Law Firm on your team, you know that you have someone in your corner fighting hard to get the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today to set up a free and confidential consultation.