Filing a Jones Act Claim: What You Need to Know
Working on the water can be a very dangerous occupation. Work-related accidents on ships, barges, boats, rigs, platforms and other vessels are a daily occurrence. The injuries workers suffer in these types of environments can be severe, if not fatal. If you are a seaman who has been injured on the job, you have the right to be compensated for your injuries under the Jones Act. While you may think that filing a Jones Act claim and dealing with legal system is too complicated and overwhelming, a skilled lawyer can guide you through the process so you can recover the compensation that you deserve.
Make Sure You File an Accident Report Immediately
When you are injured on the job, the most important thing you can do is to file an accident report with your employer. You should file your report immediately and make sure all information is accurate and complete. An employer will often dispute the date, nature of the injury or even the existence of the injury, without an accident report being filed. If your employer or an investigator asks you to give a recorded, written or sworn statement, you should never do so until after you have talked with an attorney. You should always try to get the names, phone numbers and addresses of all co-workers and other individuals who may have witnessed your accident or were aware of what the conditions were like when you were injured, in case at a later time you need their help to support your injury or the facts.
Meet with an Attorney Who Knows How to Handle a Jones Act Lawsuit
Jones Act claims can be difficult and complex. Make sure you select an attorney who is very familiar with the Jones Act and knows how to take the appropriate steps to protect your legal rights. Once you have hired an attorney, he or she will be able to handle the details and paperwork associated with your case so your claim can move forward through the system as quickly and easily as possible. Your attorney can also help you find the medical specialists you may need to properly evaluate and treat your injuries. Remember, you do not have to see the company doctor – you have the legal right to choose your own physician.
We Like to File Jones Act Claims Soon -After the Accident
In Jones Act and maritime injury cases, we will typically file a Jones Act claim or lawsuit soon after the accident. Taking immediate action puts everyone on notice that you have initiated a Jones Act claim and are being represented by legal counsel, which means your employer and the adjuster should leave you alone.
While filing a claim immediately is our general rule, there are times when it may be in your best interest to delay your filing. For example, if we think there is a reasonable chance your employer will pay you your maintenance and cure benefits, we may decide to hold off on taking adverse action against your employer. The reason we do this is because once your employer starts to pay these benefits it is much harder for your employer to try to cut them off. We also will wait until our own initial investigation has been completed so that any witness statements needed are done before filing a lawsuit or putting them on notice of representation.
You Only Have Three Years to File a Jones Act Claim
If you are a Jones Act seaman who was injured at work, you need to keep in mind that you – have three years from the date of your accident to file your lawsuit. If you wait too long and do not file your claim within the three year statute of limitations, you will be banned from filing suit against your employer. This means it is very important to consult with an attorney immediately after your accident has taken place. While you may believe that three years is long period of time, it is in your best interest to take action much sooner than three years so that early discovery and current location of the parties and facts can be determined and possibly other negligent parties added into the lawsuit before a filing deadline prevents it. Please note that in some circumstances claims against other parties may be needed to be filed within one year from the date of the accident. Therefore contacting a lawyer immediately after the accident is of utmost importance.
Do Not Delay – Contact Willis Law Firm today 1-800-468-4878 to schedule your free, initial consultation.