If you are a seaman who has been injured in a maritime accident, you may be wondering what you should expect to happen next. This can be a very difficult and confusing time for you and your family members. When your employer becomes aware of your injury and potential Jones Act claim, your employer is likely to do the following:
- Try to Get You to sign a Sworn Statement or Come in for an Interview. Many times the employer, a supervisor or an accident investigator will try and get you and others to sign sworn statements or accident reports that are crafted and written to protect them. In doing so, you may be in effect damaging any possible claim and severely limiting the negligent facts against your employer. It is very important to talk to a lawyer first to help educate you on the motives of some employers in accident cases.
- Try to Get You To See the Company Doctor. In most situations when an accident occurs, your employer is going to try to get you to see a doctor chosen by the company. It is very important to understand that under the Jones Act you have the legal right to select your own physician for your medical care. If you decide to be treated by the company’s doctor, the doctor is likely to perform only the most basic medical exam and will not order critical diagnostic tests such as MRIs or CT scans. Often your employer’s goal in having you see the company doctor is to try to convince you that you are not really injured or to minimize the injury in hopes that you do not need to hire a lawyer or pursue a lawsuit against the company.
- Try to Convince You Not to Seek Legal Representation. Even if your injuries are serious, your employer is probably going to try to convince you that you do not need to be represented by an attorney. Companies know that employees are generally unaware of their legal rights. They also know that the legal system is complicated and very difficult for employees to navigate on their own. When you hire an attorney, the playing field becomes level – your attorney will explain your rights and stand up to your employer to get you the full compensation you are legally entitled to. This means your employer could now be on the hook to pay you significant financial damages they otherwise would have never mentioned to you
- Try To Convince You that They Will Take Care of You. Employers are smart – they know that you are scared, confused and looking for someone who can help you figure out what you should do. When you are injured on the job, your employer will probably tell you not to worry because they are going to take care of you. While this may sound good, don’t believe it. Your interests and the interests of your employer are very different. Your employer is looking to protect the company, not you. This means you should have an attorney on your side who can protect your rights and fight to get you the compensation and benefits you need to recover from your accident.
- Try to Get You to Accept a Settlement Offer. Oftentimes when a seaman is injured in the course of his or her employment, the employer or its insurance carrier will try to get the seaman to accept a quick settlement and sign a release. These offers tend to be low-ball offers meaning that they are only a fraction of what your claim is actually worth. It is very important to discuss your accident and injuries with a competent attorney before you accept any offers or sign any documents. If you accept your company’s offer and sign a release, you are forever giving up your right to sue your employer and collect the full damages that you are owed under the law.
You Should Speak to a Jones Act Attorney
If you have been injured while working on a ship, barge, tugboat, offshore drilling rig or maritime vessel, now is not the time to try to go it alone. Your employer will tell you everything is going to be fine and that you do not need to see your own doctor or have legal representation. Do not blindly trust your employer. It is very important for you to talk with a lawyer who knows how to handle claims under the Jones Act and general maritime laws.
Attorney David Willis has over 30 years of experience helping injured seaman and other accident victims. He is well aware of the tactics and strategies employers use to avoid their legal responsibilities. Contact Attorney Willis today to schedule your free, confidential consultation at 1-800-468-4878 or by completing our online contact form.