Jones Act Claims: What To Expect After An On-The-Job Injury
Crewmembers and other maritime workers who sustain injuries while performing their job duties may be covered under the Jones Act. But many workers might not be aware of the process that is involved in filing a claim under the Act. There are certain guidelines and procedures that injured workers must follow when making a Jones Act claim, and a skilled Jones Act lawyer can assist individuals with ensuring that their rights under the law are preserved.
Steps You’ll Need to Take in a Jones Act Case
Whenever a crewmember is injured while performing his or her job duties on a vessel that is either at port or at sea, the individual is required and expected to report those injuries (or illnesses) to the vessel’s captain and/or some other individual in authority. The captain is required to make note of the incident on the ship’s log, as well as fill out a Report of Marine Accident, Injury or Death form. Under maritime law, the injury must be reported within at least seven days of the occurrence; however, just about any Jones Act lawyer will tell you that it is always better to report the injury as quickly as possible.
The next step that injured individuals should take is to seek medical treatment for their injuries from a qualified medical provider. Seamen should be aware that their employers must make certain that if their employees are injured while on the job, they receive proper medical treatment. What that means is that if you are severely injured while the vessel is at sea, and it is still within range that can be reached by helicopter, the employer should ask for the Coast Guard’s assistance in medi-vacing you to the nearest hospital, and if the vessel is too far out, the employer can ask that the Coast Guard pick you up once the vessel is within range. Additionally, if the injury is severe, the employer is obligated to reach out to a doctor either by radio or phone, and if the injury occurs outside of the U.S., your employer must seek proper medical care for you and get you back home. Very often, injured crewmembers are simply kept aboard the ship – as the ship travels from port to port – without disembarking the crewmember to obtain appropriate and immediate medical attention as soon as possible.
Once on land, you as the injured party must control your own treatment by ensuring that you make the appropriate demands of your employer – visit a doctor, heed the doctor’s advice and make certain that you go to all appointments. Employers will very often take advantage of a missed medical appointment to say that you have abandoned your medical care. A large part of your Jones Act case will hinge on what is found in your medical records; therefore, it is crucial for you to obtain thorough medical treatment as soon as possible.
Seek the Services of a Skilled Lawyer
Some injured seamen may wonder whether or not they even need to hire a lawyer to handle their case. But generally speaking, an injured seaman will need to use the services of a knowledgeable lawyer if he or she is having a problem obtaining medical treatment, if the insurer has failed to pay for maintenance and cure, or if the injury results in a permanent limitation or disability to the individual crewmember. Still, it is always a good idea to seek help from an attorney for any type of Jones Act claim.
Filing a Claim with a Jones Act Attorney
Developed to protect workers on navigable waters, the Jones Act is a complex piece of law that requires seamen have a safe place to work. If you are injured on the job, you should report the injury and contact a Jones Act attorney who can assist you with the formal filing of a claim.
Outlined below is the typical process for filing a Jones Act claim, although the process may vary from case to case. For specific information regarding your unique circumstances, you should consult with a lawyer at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A.
- Report the injury – You should report an injury to your employer at the earliest opportunity. Don’t delay, act immediately because your employer may want to take action to identify witnesses and investigate the scene.
- File a formal statement – After you have notified your company of the injuries you sustained, you will likely be asked to provide a detailed account of the moments leading up to your accident, generally referred to as an accident report. A Jones Act attorney will suggest that you refrain from completing such forms or providing statements prior to speaking to them. Often these documents, or taped statements, are used as evidence that your employer was not at fault for the accident, which can affect the strength of your case. If you are not feeling your best, simply decline to give a statement and contact an attorney. He or she will be able to provide guidance about completing an accident report.
- Seek medical treatment – After an accident, the chief concern is your health and well-being. See a doctor immediately and have him or her provide a detailed report of your injuries, as well as any treatments that you receive.
- Seek legal assistance – The Jones Act is complex and has many provisions and requirements. It is usually in the best interest of the injured party to hire a lawyer who is familiar with these types of claims and able to make strategic moves that ensure that you are fully and fairly compensated for your losses and injuries under the law.
- Take legal action – Once you and your lawyer have decided to move forward with legal action, you will decide to either file suit, or settle the case. Every case is unique with different circumstances, so consult with your lawyer before making any major decisions regarding the final outcome of your claim. It is wise to retain an attorney as soon as possible because you must act within the statute of limitations. Once the statute of limitations has passed, you are no longer eligible to make a monetary recovery in most instances.
How Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. Can Help With Your Claim
Our law firm is based in sunny South Florida, where most major industries are based off the tourism that the ocean attracts. For more than 40 years, our staff of attorneys has litigated maritime cases throughout the country. Presently we have 8 attorneys in our office who handle admiralty and maritime matters for the most part.
We are dedicated to ensuring that companies maintain a safe work environment for their employees on the sea. If you have been injured and are considering filing a Jones Act claim, contact a Jones Act attorney at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. today.
If you have been injured and believe you have a Jones Act case, contact a Jones Act lawyer at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. today for more information.