Learn more about maritime injury law and filing a Jones Act claim through answers to frequently asked questions:

Q: I just suffered an offshore injury, what should I do to protect myself?

A: First of all, you should immediately report the injury to your supervisor. Be sure to request that an accident report be created. Make sure that the report is both complete and accurate. If your injury was caused by a dangerous condition or problem that still exists onboard the vessel, report that to your supervisor as soon as possible in order to keep others from being injured as well. Remember, you should not give a recorded statement until after you have spoken with an experienced maritime injury law attorney. Also, do not continue to work because it could make your injury worse. If, for some reason, your boss does not offer to send you out for medical treatment, tell him you want to see a doctor.

Next, while waiting for treatment or to get off the ship, it is important that you gather statements from your co-workers about your accident and any actions or conditions that contributed to it. In addition, do not forget to gather contact information for these potential witnesses. Trying to get this information weeks or months later can be difficult or even impossible.

Further, you should immediately seek medical attention from a doctor of your choosing. The company will often try to get you to see one of its doctors who will most likely give you minimal treatment and recommend that you return to work on light duty. Politely refuse to see any doctor that they have chosen for you. Instead, consult a maritime personal injury lawyer first or seek out an independent doctor that is familiar with your job and your type of injury. Also, be wary of any rehab nurses or other assistants employed by the company to “help” you. These individuals work for the other side and may be gathering information to use against you. They do not have any legal right to attend your doctor appointments or to speak to your doctors about you and your injury without your permission.

The statute of limitations for filing a Jones Act claim is generally three years from the date of the injury. Actions for unseaworthiness against the vessel owner also have a three year statute of limitations that runs from the date of the injury. In some instances when a Jones Act cause of action is unavailable, the claim may be governed by a statute of limitations as short as one year. Because deadlines for filing a Jones Act claim can vary, you should consult with an experienced maritime injury law attorney as soon as possible to analyze the facts of your case and make a determination as to the best course of action. Don’t forget, once the statute of limitations runs, you will be forever barred from filing a Jones Act claim.

Q: How much is my maritime injury case worth and how long will it take to get it resolved?

A: There are many important factors to consider in determining the value of your case and how quickly it will be resolved. First of all, any settlement or jury verdict depends upon the extent of the injury itself. Is the injury permanent or will you eventually make a full recovery? Will the injury keep you from working offshore again in the future or will you be able to continue following treatment? These questions must be answered by experts but, for all intents and purposes, the more severe the injury, the greater the ultimate value.

Another determining factor involves the type of claim you have. Is it a Jones Act claim? Longshore and Harbor Workers Act? General Maritime? Depending upon the body of law that applies to your case, settlement values will vary widely. For the most part, Jones Act cases are worth more. However, this is not always true and each case must be evaluated individually.

Other factors include the location where your injury took place and the venue where the case is filed. Maritime injury claims are subject to complicated venue rules controlling where a case may be filed. Some courts are better than others when it comes to filing an offshore injury lawsuit. For this reason, it is very important for you to speak to an experienced maritime injury law attorney in order to decide where to file your case.

Many other variables will influence the value of your case including the amount of experience held by the attorneys on both sides, how clear the liability is and whether or not any safety regulations were violated leading to your injury. The most important thing you can do for yourself is consult a lawyer with experience in handling maritime injury law claims. Otherwise, you could end up hurt with nothing to show for it.

Q: After a maritime injury, can I choose my own physician or am I required to see only company-approved doctors?

A: No, injured offshore workers are not required to see company-approved doctors. You are free to select any physician you wish. Company doctors will likely try and send you back to work before you are ready or may even avoid performing necessary tests, like MRI’s and CT scans, that may reveal the true extent of your injury. It is important to remember that if a doctor works for your employer, he will ultimately be loyal to him, not you. That is why it is important for you to select a doctor whom you trust.

Q: Following an offshore injury, do I have to sign anything or give a statement before I receive medical treatment or maintenance payments?

A: No, you are never required to sign anything under the Jones Act in order to receive benefits. In truth, following an injury, it is never a good idea to sign anything before speaking with an experienced Jones Act attorney. Maritime employers have been known to try and force their employees into signing release or settlement papers before receiving benefits. This can result in you being unable to recover damages under the Act. Any number of clauses or waivers could be hidden within the papers your boss gives you to sign. These could ultimately keep you from the money you deserve. If your employer insists on you signing paperwork in order to receive benefits, it is imperative that you allow a knowledgeable maritime injury law attorney to review those papers first to make sure that you are not signing away any important legal rights. Don’t be a victim twice.

Q: Do I have to give a formal statement after I am injured?

A: No, the Jones Act never requires injured seamen to give recorded statements to their employers. While it is always a good idea to report any incident immediately to your employer so that an incident report can be created, you are not required to give a formal statement. In fact, any demand to the contrary by your employer should be cause for concern. Sometimes an employer may even try to get you to say things in your statement that will damage your case once you get further into litigation. Once you say something on tape, even if it’s not what you meant, it will be hard to argue against it in court and it could seriously harm your ability to recover damages for your injury.

Contact an Experienced Maritime Injury Law Attorney for a Free Case Consultation: 1-888-302-3838

If you or a loved one were injured while working offshore, contact one of the maritime injury law attorneys at Zehl & Associates, an experienced Jones Act law firm. We’ll explain and help you protect your rights and do whatever necessary to ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries and losses. If you prefer to meet in person, we can send a lawyer to you, at no cost.

Call 1-888-302-3838 or email us by clicking here.


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