Yes. This is particularly important when the doctor will be making decisions concerning your ability to return to work, work restrictions, whether an accident caused the injury or disability, and/or whether you have a permanent disability caused by the accident. When in doubt, get your own doctor with undivided loyalty to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I see my own doctor after an offshore injury?
If I suffer an offshore injury, am I required to see only company doctors?
No, you have the right to pick your own doctor. In fact, we find it automatically suspicious when a crewmember is treated by a doctor selected by the employer. That’s because when a crewmember is treated by a doctor who’s bought and paid for by the employer, a potential conflict of interest exists where your best medical interests can differ from the boat owner’s best economic interests.
What is the statute of limitations for a seaman to bring a claim for offshore injuries?
The statute of limitations for maritime torts is 3 years from either
- (1) the date of the injury, or
- (2) when you become aware of an [occupational] injury and its cause.
This limit changes if you were promised by the company that you would not be held to the 3 year limit.
If you think you have a case but are unsure if the statute of limitations has expired, give Schedule an appointment and we will review the facts together to see where you stand.
If I file a maritime injury claim, will I be blackballed or blacklisted?
Injured offshore workers sometimes worry that filing an injury claim would not only lead to termination, but also in being barred from similar future employment. Unfortunately, employers do sometimes attempt to retaliate when these workers exercise their legal rights, but this should not be a deciding factor when choosing whether to pursue compensation for your injury.
This is because crewmembers have rights. An employer may not discharge a crewmember:
- (1) in retaliation for filing a Jones Act claim
- (2) for testifying or giving information in support for a fellow crewmember’s claim
- (3) for reporting a statutory or regulatory violation to the Coast Guard
- (4) for refusing to obey an order that would impose an undue risk of death or serious personal injury to the crew.
A crewmember who is the victim of such retaliatory vengeance by the employer is entitled to file a lawsuit to recover damages for mental anguish, lost earnings and expenses of finding another job.
I’ve been injured offshore and I can’t work...now what?
If you are injured, fill out an injury report and make sure it describes any and all factors creating an unsafe workplace (examples: darkness, slipperiness, negligence of a co-worker, insufficient or defective equipment, insufficient manpower, unsafe procedures, or anything else). Do what you can to document what happened as close to the time the injury happened as possible honestly and completely.
Then, contact The Maritime Injury Law Firm to schedule a free consultation. Together, we’ll take a look at your case and determine what your options are for moving forward. If we decide to work together, we’ll get started on our investigation and gather the evidence we need to build your strongest possible case.
Should I talk to the insurance company about my offshore injuries?
Often, soon after an injury, the employer’s insurance representative or claims agent will try to get a signed or recorded telephone statement from you. They represent the employer, so that is where their allegiance usually lies. It’s the old “is the glass half empty or half full?” adage. If you want to do what you can to make sure the scales of justice are tipped as much as possible in your favor, cover all your bases: CALL US FIRST. Talking to an insurance representative, adjuster or claims agent without first getting legal advice from an experienced maritime lawyer can result in your glass being half or completely empty.
How do I choose the right lawyer for my maritime injury case?
Maritime is a very distinct area of law, unlike any other. And not every lawyer understands the ins and outs of these types of cases.
I have dedicated the past 20 years to fighting for the rights of offshore workers — and have a deep understanding of the specific challenges you’re facing. I know the pressures placed upon crewmembers. My job is to use my experience and legal knowledge to level the playing field and go after big, life-changing justice for my clients. Schedule your first consultation today.
What is The Jones Act and why is it important?
The Jones Act is a negligence statute originally passed in 1915 in an effort by the U.S. Congress to protect the rights of crewmen injured or taken ill in the course of their employment. Under The Jones Act, the injured employee has the right to the following:
- A safe place to work (including the task being performed, space, tools, and equipment provided and conditions under which the job must be performed)
- The ability to pick their own doctor after an illness or injury
- Compensatory damages after a work-related injury (i.e., pain, suffering, mental anguish, inability to engage in social and recreational activities you previously enjoyed prior to being injured, fear of future surgery, embarrassment, humiliation, and lost earning power)
Learn more about The Jones Act here.
What is “Maintenance and Cure?”
Maintenance and cure are automatic periodic payments payable for any illness or injury sustained or manifested by the seaman in the service of the ship. Maintenance is supposed to equal living expenses for the seaman, including lodging payments, food, utilities, basic phone, transportation, etc. Cure is payment for necessary medical treatment. You are entitled to this until you have reached “maximum medical improvement” and whether or not there is any negligence or unseaworthiness. If the employer pays too little, if worthwhile, we will immediately go to court to get that amount increased for you.
What is a seaman and am I considered a seaman?
To qualify as a Seaman, one must be a crewmember working aboard a vessel in navigation. You don’t need to be part of the navigation crew to be a seaman – you only need to have a substantial connection to the vessel.
Do seamen have special protections under the law?
Yes. Seamen are considered wards of the courts whose rights are to be zealously protected, just like the court protects the rights of children and widows. Maritime law gives more protection to seamen than nearly any other type of worker. Give us a call at any point in your injury claims process for a free, confidential case consultation.