If you work offshore and you have suffered an injury or illness on the job, you may be entitled to financial compensation under the Jones Act. You may also be wondering, “Do I need a lawyer for my Jones Act claim?”
If you have a Jones Act claim, there are lots of reasons to hire a lawyer to represent you. Asserting your legal rights under the Jones Act is complicated—and making mistakes can be costly. Here are 10 important reasons why you should hire a lawyer to help you:
Why Should You Hire a Lawyer for Your Jones Act Claim?
1. You Need to Report Your Injury or Illness Quickly (and Correctly)
When you have a Jones Act claim, you must report your injury or illness to your employer. You must do so quickly, and you must also do so correctly. If you wait too long, if you leave out any important information, or if you say anything that isn’t true (even accidentally), you could lose your right to benefits.
A lawyer who has experience handling maritime injury and illness claims under the Jones Act can help make sure you protect your legal rights. Along with helping you report your injury or illness, your lawyer can also help you understand what to expect during the next steps of the process.
2. You Need to Make Sure You Have Adequate Documentation for Your Claim
As a Jones Act claimant, it is up to you to prove your right to benefits. This means that you need to make sure you have adequate documentation for your claim. Your lawyer can explain what documentation you need to collect, and if necessary, your lawyer can take legal action to secure key documentation on your behalf.
3. You May Have Multiple Different Claims Under the Jones Act
If you qualify as a “seaman” under the Jones Act, you could potentially have multiple claims related to your on-the-job injury or illness. If you have multiple claims, you may need to pursue each claim in order to recover full compensation for your injury or illness-related losses. The three types of Jones Act claims are:
- Claims for maintenance and cure benefits
- Claims based on Jones Act negligence
- Claims based on a vessel’s unseaworthiness
4. You May Also Have a Claim Outside of the Jones Act
Another key reason to hire a lawyer after suffering a maritime injury or illness is that you may also have a claim outside of the Jones Act. For example, let’s say you are entitled to maintenance and cure but you don’t have a claim for Jones Act negligence or unseaworthiness. Maintenance and cure only cover your medical expenses and a small portion of your lost wages, so if you only file a claim under the Jones Act, you could still face significant financial strain.
But let’s say you were injured by a defective tool or piece of equipment onboard. In this scenario, a lawyer may be able to help you pursue a claim against the manufacturer. Filing a claim against the manufacturer could allow you to recover full compensation—including compensation for all of your lost wages, your pain and suffering, and your other present and future losses.
5. It Is Up to You to Calculate Your Jones Act Benefits
When filing a claim under the Jones Act, you need to make sure you know how much you are entitled to receive. In other words, it is up to you to calculate your Jones Act benefits—you should not trust your employer’s insurance company to calculate your benefits for you. Your lawyer can accurately calculate your benefits, and your lawyer can deal with the insurance company to make sure it doesn’t take advantage of you.
6. It May Be in Your Best Interests to Seek a Lump Sum Settlement
Generally, insurance companies pay Jones Act benefits in installments. This means that your benefits can stop—and they often will stop unexpectedly and without notice. As a result, it may be in your best interests to seek a lump sum settlement. This will allow you to get paid all at once and avoid dealing with the insurance company going forward. But, to secure a fair lump sum settlement, you will need an experienced lawyer on your side.
7. You Can Encounter Various Challenges Along the Way
In addition to running into issues with your employer’s insurance company, you can also encounter various other challenges along the way. From making sure you get the treatment you need to making sure you do not feel pressured to return to work too soon, an experienced lawyer will be able to help you throughout the recovery process.
8. You Need to Make Smart Decisions About How and When to Resolve Your Claim(s)
Whether you decide to seek a settlement or you need to take legal action to collect the benefits you deserve, you need to make smart decisions about how and when to resolve your claim(s). Your lawyer can give you the advice you need to make the right decisions with your long-term best interests in mind.
9. You Don’t Have to Pay Anything to Hire a Lawyer
While many injured maritime workers have questions about the cost of hiring a lawyer, hiring a lawyer does not cost anything out of pocket. You can get started with a free consultation, and if you decide to move forward, you won’t have to pay a retainer fee or any monthly costs.
10. You Don’t Have to Pay Anything at All Unless You Win
When you hire a lawyer to handle your Jones Act claim, you don’t have to pay anything unless you win. This is known as “contingency fee” representation. If your claim is successful, your legal fees and costs will be deducted from the compensation your lawyer helped you recover. If your claim is unsuccessful for any reason, you owe nothing.
Discuss Your Jones Act Claim with an Experienced Lawyer for Free
In short, there are lots of reasons to hire a lawyer, and there are no good reasons to try to handle your claim on your own. To discuss your Jones Act claim with an experienced lawyer in confidence, call 800-468-4878 or request a free consultation online today.Share This