Maritime Worker and Seaman Injuries, Jones Act Cases
Federal legislation that protects American workers at sea is known as the Jones Act. This legislation protects workers who are injured in our area who work around the Gulf. It is also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. If you are a sailor or marine worker that has been injured, you need to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to recover compensation due to you from your employer. If you have been involved in an accident at sea or have become sick, call us.
Under the Jones Act, claims of negligence can be brought when the careless act of an employer or coworker results in an injury to you. Injuries due to unsafe conditions on a ship or vessel can result in the liability of the ship owner. It does not typically matter how you were injured, under the law, your living and medical expenses must be paid. But not all workers around the Gulf of Mexico will qualify. Call us to see if you meet the criteria.
Functionally, under the Jones Act you must be a “seaman”. However, the definition of who qualifies can be arbitrary. You need an experienced personal injury attorney that deals with Jones Act cases that can look to the current law of the court to determine if you meet the definition. If you are an individual that was assigned to a fleet or vessel that has operated in navigable waters, then you may qualify. Seamen are usually individuals that perform work that is related to the vessel’s purpose.
Why do you need an experienced Jones Act attorney when you are injured? Because vessel owners and employers will fight your claim and will work to minimize their liability. When you are in an accident or are injured under the Jones Act, your employer won’t always play fair. What are some tactics that employers will use to minimize their liability on claims under the Jones Act?
First, they will want you to see their doctor. The company doctor won’t always take steps that are in your best interest. The company doctor wants to treat you in the best interest of your employer and insurance carrier. Under the Jones Act, you have the right to see your own doctor. Hire a Jones Act attorney and get the care you deserve.
As a doctor that has performed hundreds of impairment ratings, I have seen hundreds of workers that were poured out of the system after a poor rating by the company doctor. Don’t get caught in this trap. When you are hurt, the expenses can pile on fast. Don’t accept a low settlement just to move on before you are fully recovered from your Jones Act related injuries. You won’t get a second chance. Your injuries may later prove to be career ending.
When making a settlement offer under the Jones Act your employer may present you with forms that are difficult to understand. Don’t sign away your rights until you have met with a Jones Act lawyer to explain your rights. Injured seamen and maritime workers don’t always consider their lost wages, medical bills, future medical bills, and expenses. When in doubt, have an attorney review your claim.
Your Jones Act claim will be handled much like an auto accident. The company will try to obtain recorded statements from you that can and will damage your claim. Don’t fall into this trap. Meet with an attorney immediately to protect your claim.
Be cautious about your accident report. Your injury may be downplayed or made to look as if it was your fault. If you get an attorney early, you can amend the report that was made by the company. Sometimes, you won’t even get a copy of the report to know if the injury was reported correctly. Be smart, get a Jones Act attorney.
Another tactic we frequently see companies employing is the use of a private investigator. The investigator will follow you to your home, doctor, and other places. They will video tape you to try and minimize your injuries.
If you have been injured offshore, call us immediately. You need legal advice early in your claim. You need a Jones Act attorney to secure your medical records and fight for you. Your company is looking out for itself. Protect your rights, call us today.