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Company tricks in Jones Act cases

Brian Beckcom

Brian Beckcom


If you’ve decided to wait for your company to do the right thing about your injury claim, you may be getting tricked. People who work in the maritime industry and offshore are very loyal to their fellow crew members and to their companies. We’ve helped hundreds of mariners and offshore workers. Our clients tell us they felt betrayed by their company after they were injured. They tell us that they expected their loyalty and hard work to be respected and repaid by the company.

Our clients say one of the reasons they waited to contact us is that they felt as if the company was taking care of them and watching out for their best interests. At least, this is what their company told them. Then, after most of the deadlines on a Jones Act claim expire, the company suddenly turned its back on them. Companies will stop benefits, stop helping with medical care and wages, and may even fire you. The truth is, companies don’t care about your loyalty and hard work when you get hurt. All you are to them is a giant burden. We’ve seen every trick on the planet when it comes to ways maritime companies try to avoid following the Jones Act.

Common “tricks” your employer may use to defeat your Jones Act injury claim

Once you get hurt, you’re a threat to your company’s profits. Employers and vessel owners need to minimize their liability for accidents and injuries—and they don’t always play fair in the process. You need to know what to watch out for so you have time to take legal action to protect your rights. Injured Jones Act workers should watch out for:

  • Company attempts to get you to see a company doctor. The good news is that, as a Jones Act mariner, you have the right to see your own doctor after you’ve been injured at work. And your company, under maintenance and cure, will cover your medical bills.
  • Company attempts to offer a low settlement. Your lost wages, medical bills, and living expenses add up quickly. If you accept a settlement offer before you’ve fully recovered from your injuries, and the money runs out, you’re stuck. If you accept a settlement offer before you find out that your injuries are career-ending, you’re really stuck. The true cost of your injury could be tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the company is offering.
  • Company attempts to have you sign away your rights. If you sign forms you don’t understand or accept the company’s initial settlement offer, you might be signing away your Jones Act rights. These are valuable rights that allow you to recover your lost wages, medical bills, expenses, future medical bills, and future lost wages. If you aren’t 100 percent sure what you’re signing, review it with an attorney.
  • Company attempts to prepare an inaccurate report about your injury. Typically, the company will downplay their own fault for causing your injury. They may blame you for your accident and claim you were not seriously injured. For these reasons, usually the company won’t give you a copy of your own accident report.
  • Company attempts to take recorded statements. The company will try to take recorded statements from you and your co-workers, and those statements could hurt your claim. The company tricks you and your fellow employees into giving statements that are bad for your claim. Your co-workers feel obligated to go along with what the company says about your accident because they don’t want to jeopardize their jobs.
  • Company attempts to hire a private investigator. The company may hire a private investigator to follow you around and secretly videotape you. Then, when you assert a Jones Act claim, they will pull up these videos and claim they show you were not injured as seriously as you claim.
  • Company attempts to get copies of your private medical records. The company probably didn’t tell you that you are not required to sign forms for release of personal records. They will try to get you to give up your full medical record, then send the records to a company doctor, who will write a report that downplays your injuries and returns you to work prematurely.

These are just some of the things your employer may be doing behind your back while you are trying to recover from your injuries. While they are doing these things, they are telling you that they are looking out for you, and looking out for your best interests. They are also probably telling you not to talk to any attorneys about a Jones Act claim. The truth of the matter is this: your company is only looking out for itself and trying to find ways it can pay you as little as possible for your injury. The company tells you one thing, and does the opposite behind your back.

Don’t wait any longer to talk to an attorney if you’ve been injured working offshore

If one or more of the above scenarios sounds familiar, talk to an experienced maritime injury attorney right away. The reason why you should get legal advice immediately is because there is no doubt the company ‘s adjusters and lawyers are working to make your claim disappear. The longer you wait to get help, the more time the company has to make evidence disappear or trick you out of your legal rights. They’re hard at work finding ways to pay you nothing while you’re thinking they’re going to repay your loyalty.

Even though companies have legal obligations to compensate you and provide you with the medical care you need to recover if you qualify as a Jones Act seaman, that doesn’t mean they will follow through. Chances are you were hurt because the company put profits over safety. That means they probably won’t turn around and prioritize your legal rights over their bottom line.

When you consult with our maritime injury attorneys about your case, we not only give you our advice, we will work with you behind the scenes if you aren’t sure if the company is trying to trick you out of your legal rights. Your company won’t know we’re helping you unless and until we have to file a Jones Act lawsuit on your behalf. It is completely free for you to have us help you behind the scenes. You have everything to gain. And if you know your company is trying to trick you out of your legal rights and want to file a Jones Act claim right away, we will get started right away.

At VB Attorneys your case is reviewed for free, with no obligation, so that you can make an informed decision about what to do next. We will answer all your questions, make recommendations based on our experience helping hundreds of maritime workers, and help you get the best result in the shortest amount of time possible. Call us now at 877-724-7800 or fill out a contact form on our website.

Topics: Jones Act