If you’ve recently been injured in a workplace accident offshore, you’re probably wondering what comes next.
You might have heard about the extensive protections for seamen guaranteed by The Jones Act, among other laws. It’s true that maritime workers have more legal protection than workers in almost any other industry, including the right to maintenance and cure.
However, more than likely, your employer is going to do everything in their power to deny you the compensation you are legally owed. That’s why you need a seasoned maritime lawyer to represent you and fight to make sure your rights as a seamen are respected.
From our experienced Louisiana-based legal team at The Maritime Injury Law Firm, here are 4 ways a maritime lawyer can help you with your injury case.
1. Understanding the ins and outs of maritime law
Seamen and offshore workers are entitled to unique protections under maritime law.
However, sometimes you need an experienced legal professional to help you understand exactly which law your situation falls under:
- The Jones Act, which entitles offshore workers to full compensation for their work-related injuries in addition to maintenance and cure
- The Death on the High Seas Act, which entitles families of offshore workers to compensation in the event of a work-related death
- The Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which entitles shipyard workers to financial compensation for their work-related injuries
Additionally, injured seamen and offshore workers may sue the owner of the vessel or the vessel itself for damages related to an unseaworthy condition. Seamen and offshore workers may also sue their employer for damages related to the negligence of another member of the crew causing injury.
Lastly, seamen and offshore workers are entitled to periodic payments from their employer for any illness or injury sustained or manifested in service of the ship. These payments are known as “maintenance and cure” and cover both living expenses and medical treatments.
An experienced maritime lawyer can help you identify which of these laws and protections best represent your situation.
2. Gathering evidence
In order to receive compensation for your injuries, you will need to prove that your employer, the owner of the boat, or another party acted negligently, and that this negligence led to your injuries.
You will need to write down as much information about the incident as you can remember while it’s still fresh in your mind. Make sure to describe any and all factors contributing to an unsafe workplace, including the following:
- Negligent co-workers
- Untrained or undertrained co-workers
- Insufficient or defective equipment
- Insufficient manpower
- Unsafe procedures
- Anything else that may have contributed to the accident
With your attorney’s help, you can start collecting other pieces of evidence to support your case:
- Eyewitness accounts
- Photos or video recordings
- Medical reports
- Official injury reports
3. Dealing with your employer and their insurer
Unfortunately, your employer may not always be cooperative when it comes to collecting these last pieces of evidence.
In our years of representing injured maritime workers, here are some of the underhanded tactics we’ve seen employers use to avoid paying up:
- Your employer might have its own company doctors examine you to downplay your injuries.
- They might have insurance adjusters approach you about signing a statement.
- They might try to get you to fill out an accident report with their version of the facts.
- They might even order you back to work before you’re fully recovered.
It’s crucial that you talk to an attorney before agreeing to any of these things. You have the right to see your own doctor, and you have a right to a complete, accurate accident report that reflects the actions of any negligent parties involved.
4. Filing a lawsuit and representing you in court
If an insurance settlement doesn’t work out, your maritime injury lawyer will help you file a lawsuit under The Jones Act and take your employer to court to make sure you’re compensated for everything you’re worth.
Your employer will almost certainly have several highly-paid lawyers on their side to prevent them from having to pay their fair share.
That’s why hiring an attorney with years of experience working exclusively in maritime law is essential to guaranteeing that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Contact The Maritime Injury Law Firm today
At The Maritime Injury Law Firm, we know about offshore work injuries. Our experienced Louisiana-based Jones Act attorneys will work tirelessly to make sure that you are receiving the full compensation you deserve.