Injured Offshore? Don’t Make These 7 Common Mistakes

Jones Act Mar 31, 2023

If you have been injured while working offshore, you must be careful to protect your legal rights. While the Jones Act entitles offshore workers to financial compensation when they get injured on the job, you can lose your rights under the Jones Act if you aren’t careful.

7 Mistakes to Avoid After Getting Injured Offshore

When you have a Jones Act claim, there are several costly mistakes you need to avoid. If you make these mistakes, you could end up with less compensation than you deserve—or you could even end up without any compensation for your offshore injury at all.

What are the mistakes you need to avoid making after suffering an offshore injury? Here are seven all-too-common examples:

1. Waiting to See a Doctor

When you get injured offshore, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. In many cases, this will mean seeing the doctor on your ship or rig. While you may want to wait to see your own doctor once you get back to land, waiting to seek a diagnosis could make it more difficult to collect the benefits you deserve.

While you should see your ship’s or rig’s doctor if you won’t be heading back to land any time soon, you also need to be careful. Unfortunately, this doctor won’t necessarily have your best interests in mind. Your ship’s or rig’s doctor works for your employer, and, as a result, he or she may feel pressured to question the cause of your injury (i.e., state that you have a pre-existing condition) or only provide the minimum treatment needed to get you back to work.

2. Only Relying on Your Ship Doctor’s or Rig Doctor’s Advice

Given these concerns, you should not rely solely on your ship doctor’s or rig doctor’s advice. Instead, once you get back to land, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor or go to the hospital as soon as possible. When you do this, you should do your best to clearly explain how you got injured, and you should tell your doctor about any treatment you have received to date.

Under the Jones Act, you have the right to choose your own doctor, and it is important that you do so. Not only is this important for your health, but it is also important for your financial recovery.

3. Only Seeking Maintenance and Cure Benefits

Speaking of your financial recovery, when you get injured offshore you should not limit yourself to seeking maintenance and cure benefits. While these are typically the easiest benefits to obtain (though obtaining maintenance and cure can still prove challenging in many cases), they will not cover all of the costs of your offshore injury.

Depending on how you got injured, you may also have a claim for unseaworthiness or Jones Act negligence. If you do, you can (and should) hire a lawyer to seek full compensation for your medical care, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses.

4. Letting Your Employer Take Control of Your Jones Act Claim

When you get injured offshore, one of the easiest ways to deal with your situation is to let your employer take care of it. You can report your injury, go to the doctor, and then wait to see what happens next.

But, this is not the right approach.

The reason is simple: When you file a Jones Act claim, your employer’s goal is to pay as little as possible. Companies prioritize profits over all else, and they will not hesitate to take advantage of workers who fail to adequately protect their legal rights.

5. Making Assumptions About Your Jones Act Claim

Protecting your legal rights after an offshore injury starts with making informed decisions. You need to have a clear understanding of the steps you need to take, and you need to stay focused on maximizing your physical and financial recovery. This means that you should not make assumptions such as:

  • Assuming that your employer will treat you fairly
  • Assuming that everything will “work out” in the end
  • Assuming that collecting maintenance and cure is your only option
  • Assuming that there is nothing you can do to improve your chances of recovery
  • Assuming that you won’t win in court

The Jones Act exists specifically to protect offshore workers in your situation. While collecting the full compensation you deserve under the Jones Act isn’t easy, it is possible. You just need to make sure you are making smart decisions—and you need to rely on the advice of an experienced lawyer.  

6. Settling Before You Know How Much You Are Entitled to Recover

After an offshore injury, setting your Jones Act claim allows you to move on with your life. But, this is only true if your settlement provides adequate compensation for the costs of your injury. If you settle for too little, you could end up bearing the financial and non-financial costs for years to come.

One of the most common mistakes offshore workers make when it comes to settlement is settling before they know how much they are entitled to recover. Until you know how much you deserve for your current and future medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses, you cannot make an informed decision about settlement.

7. Trying to Handle Your Jones Act Claim on Your Own

Given the challenges involved in protecting your legal rights under the Jones Act, it is important not to try to handle your offshore injury claim on your own. You can (and should) hire a lawyer to represent you, and you can do so at no out-of-pocket cost.

Discuss Your Jones Act Claim with an Experienced Offshore Injury Lawyer

Do you need to know more about protecting your legal rights under the Jones Act? If so, encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation about your offshore injury claim, call 800-468-4878 or tell us about your accident online now.

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