Your work environment should be safe and free of any dangerous risks, especially if that work environment is out on the water. If you are a maritime worker who was hurt because of employer negligence, you have rights.
A negligent employer can be held responsible under the Jones Act, a series of laws passed in the 1920s designed to protect American maritime workers in cases of illness or injury.
When you’ve been hurt in an offshore or maritime accident, time is not on your side. There are certain steps you must follow in order to file a legal claim against your employer under the Jones Act.
Our team at VB Attorneys will walk you through the steps of filing a Jones Act claim and recovering compensation for your injuries and lost wages.
How to File a Jones Act Claim
Filing a Jones Act claim is a time-sensitive process, so any delay in beginning the claim process may hurt your chances of success. Ensure that you follow each step promptly and methodically.
Report the Injury to your Captain, Employer, or Senior Officer
If you have been injured aboard a ship at sea or at a dock on navigable waters you have a 7-day reporting window in which you must notify the captain, employer, or a senior officer that you have been injured. It is best to make your report as soon as possible, otherwise, the vessel's or shipping company's insurer will assume you were not seriously hurt enough to justify filing an injury claim. Make sure the captain records the injury in the ship's log and files a Report of Marine Accident, Injury, or Death (CG-2692) form as per federal regulations.
File the Accident Report
As soon as your injuries allow, file your company-provided accident report. Make sure you do so when your mind is clear and you are not impaired by medications. Fill out the accident report as thoroughly as possible.
Seek Medical Attention
Seek immediate medical attention from your doctor, emergency medical personnel, or your ship's medical officer. Regardless of how minor your injuries may seem, it’s important to get seen because injuries may worsen and become very serious. Document everything–it is important to keep proof of all treatments you receive while onboard your ship. If necessary, ask for diagnostic tests. If your vessel is within range, let your captain arrange for an evacuation at sea. Do not attempt to stay on duty even if the injury is not immediately life-threatening.
Ensure the Captain Reports the Accident to Human Resources
Make sure that the captain sends the accident report to the company’s human resources (HR) department. After the HR office receives it, it should be forwarded to the Workers' Compensation office, which they will contact the ship's or fleet's insurer.
Seek Legal Counsel
It is imperative to seek legal assistance if you are unsure of who caused the accident or feel as though you are being coerced to accept an unfair settlement. Injured maritime workers can be pressured into taking responsibility for accidents that were caused by employer negligence.
Preserve All Documents
Be sure to save all of the necessary documents for your case. The documents should include copies of accident reports, medical reports, bills related to your work-related injury, and other related documentation.
Do Not Give a Written or Recorded Statement
Your company’s insurers will attempt to get you to give them a statement as soon as they receive the CG-2692 form and other reports from the Workers’ Compensation office. Even if the insurance company representative tries to persuade you into giving a written or taped statement about your injuries, don’t do it. The insurer’s job is to reduce the value of your claim and will do anything to achieve this goal.
Our Jones Act & Maritime Lawyers Can Help
Get in touch with a maritime attorney who handles Jones Act cases before you take any further steps, especially if you feel your rights are being violated or if you feel coerced into signing something you aren't comfortable with. Our Jones Act and maritime lawyers have decades of experience winning cases against practically every company in the maritime and offshore industry. Get the help you need to get your life back on track. Call 713-224-7800 or click here for a free and confidential case evaluation.