If you have been injured in a maritime accident, it is likely your employer and its insurance carrier will try to get you to settle your case. While you may be thinking there is an easy formula you can use to calculate your damages, the reality is that maritime injuries can be are complex. Recoveries from serious injuries tend to be long and painful and maritime workers are often off the job for an extended period of time. In some cases, an injured worker will never fully recover or be able to return to the job that he had before the accident. Unlike a simple auto wreck, there is no easy way to calculate your damages when you are engaged in a Jones Act settlement discussion. Even if you have a dollar figure in mind, you should consult with an attorney who has extensive experience negotiating and trying Jones Act claims. Never inform the insurance company, adjuster or your employer any particular dollar amount or future medical needs without first discussing facts of your accident, details of your injuries and your financial needs for the future.
The Dangers of Signing a Release
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.
Damages Considered in a Jones Act Settlement
Maritime employers have a legal duty to provide their employees with a safe place to work. When your employer fails to meet this duty they can be held legally liable for your damages. When you are hurt on the job, a skilled maritime injury lawyer will undertake a thorough investigation of your injuries. He or she will carefully evaluate your damages and determine what the law allows to help ensure you receive the full value of your claim. Unfortunately, employers and insurance companies in the maritime industry are well known for taking advantage of injured employees by seriously undervaluing their injury claims. A qualified maritime lawyer knows that a reasonable & just financial settlement in a Jones Act case would need to take into account all of the following damages:
- Past and future lost wages
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost earning capacity
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Past and future mental anguish
- Other costs associated with your injuries
When you work with an experienced maritime law firm, your lawyer will carefully evaluate all settlement offers and provide you with a professional recommendation as to whether a settlement is fair and reasonable based upon the specific circumstances of your case. While your attorney will answer your questions and provide you with legal advice, you will make the ultimate decision as to whether you want to accept or reject a settlement offer.
If a settlement cannot be reached and your case proceeds to trial, the process will be more complicated. While it is impossible to predict the precise value a judge or jury will place on your case, if you are working with an experienced attorney he or she will be familiar with damage awards in all types of Jones Act cases. Your lawyer will take you through the legal process and work with you to build a strong case that gives you the best chance of recovering maximum compensation for your injuries.
Don’t Delay – Talk with a Knowledgeable Jones Act Settlement Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in a maritime incident and the insurance company or your employer is trying to get you to settle your claim, you need to have the assistance of a maritime injury lawyer. The Willis Law Firm has more than 30 years of experience advising and representing injured maritime employees. When you work with our firm we will be at your side every step of the way to help ensure that you receive what your case is really worth. Call us today for a free, confidential evaluation of your maritime accident case: 1-800-468-4878.