When you are injured working aboard a ship, barge, tug boat, commercial fishing boat, or any other type of vessel or maritime structure, your employer is likely to take swift action to protect itself from legal claims and liability. In most situations, your company will immediately contact their lawyers who will begin a thorough investigation of the accident, interviewing eye witnesses and securing the evidence they need to defend against any potential legal claims. These lawyers may also approach you and ask you to sign confusing paperwork and documents. You should never sign anything until you have spoken with a knowledgeable maritime injury lawyer. Your attorney will carefully review each and every document to make sure that you are not giving up any of your legal rights.
Maritime injuries tend to be serious and costly. You may be off of work for a long period of time and need expensive, ongoing medical care to help you recover from your accident. Depending upon the extent of your injuries, you may never be able to return to work in the same capacity. All of this can place a tremendous financial burden on you and your family.
Maritime employers are well aware of the financial struggles you may be dealing with. When a maritime accident occurs it is common for the company to try to get the injured employee to sign a release or settlement agreement as quickly as possible. Even if you are in desperate need of money, do not fall into this trap. Your company knows that you are vulnerable and is hoping you will take the offer so they can avoid costly legal claims and lawsuits.
These settlements offers are generally unfair and the amount of money offered tends to be far less than what your case is actually worth. You should never sign a settlement offer or release until you have carefully reviewed it with your maritime attorney. If you accept an offer and sign a release you will be forfeiting your right to collect any additional money regardless of what problems may arise in the future. Many final releases also require the injured worker to forfeit future medical benefits or any rights they may have to file a lawsuit or claim against other responsible parties in the future.
What If My Employer Refuses to Pay Me Maintenance and Cure Benefits?
If your employer tells you that you need to sign paperwork and documents before they will pay you your maintenance and cure benefits you need to speak with an attorney immediately. The Jones Act is a federal law that protects injured seaman. Under this law, your employer cannot require you to sign a release or any other documents so that you can collect your benefits. You should never sign any papers from your employer or its insurance carrier unless you have consulted with your lawyer. These documents could contain hidden clauses and disclosures that could restrict your legal rights and prevent you from pursuing legal claims against your employer.
Talk with an Offshore Injury Attorney Before You Sign Any Papers
The laws and legal procedures surrounding maritime injury claims are complex and are best handled by an experienced maritime attorney. When you work with an offshore injury or maritime accident lawyer you can take comfort in knowing that you will not be taken advantage of by your employer or its insurance carrier. The Willis Law Firm will protect your interests and stand up for your rights at every stage of the process. Contact us today to schedule your free, confidential consultation.