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Hurt working on a drilling rig? Worried about getting blackballed?

Brian Beckcom

Brian Beckcom


Whenever we talk to Jones Act workers who have been hurt working on a vessel or drilling rig, one of the most pressing questions they have is if their companies will retaliate against them for filing an injury claim. In the maritime industry, this retaliation is frequently called being “blackballed” or “blacklisted.” For every person who asks us about getting blackballed, there are multiple people who are too scared to come forward and get help.

Being blackballed is a valid fear. However, we have some good news for you. Not only is it against the law for your employer to blackball you for filing an injury claim and protecting yourself, we work to make sure our Jones Act clients are protected from any underhanded, sneaky, or illegal tactics. The fear of being blackballed prevents too many injured workers from even consulting an attorney about their legal rights. All this does is benefit the company.

Your rights under the Jones Act can be very valuable. When you get hurt on the job and qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act, your company is legally required to pay for your living expenses and medical bills until you’ve recovered or reached maximum medical improvement. It is in the company’s best interest to make you afraid to file an incident report, speak to an attorney about your legal rights, or file a claim. They save money if you believe you’ll be blackballed for protecting your rights.

Maritime industry “blacklists” are more mythical than real

Blacklists in the maritime industry are nothing more than an empty threat wielded by employers who don’t want to be on the hook for a cash payout. If the maritime industry really had a blacklist, all of the companies in maritime and maritime-related industries would have to:

  • Maintain a database of current and pending Jones Act litigation
  • Share the names of workers who have successfully obtained Jones Act settlements, as well as those whose cases have been dismissed.
  • Share (with the competition) the detailed circumstances of the accidents or incidents that resulted in a Jones Act claim, which no employer wants to do.
  • Check this master list against the name of each and every job applicant.
  • Decline to hire a uniquely qualified applicant, with in-demand job skills, because they had once sued their employer.

Filing a legal claim does not mean you will be blackballed

Because of how complex and huge this operation would have to be, the it would be nearly impossible for companies to maintain a true blacklist. The law is also very strict when it comes to blacklists. Simply put, your current employer cannot fire you for filing a Jones Act claim. Neither can a potential future employer. That doesn’t mean that being blackballed doesn’t exist entirely. If you file an unfounded or fake claim, if you exaggerate your injuries, or if you file claims over and over again, employers may have a valid reason to blackball you. Also, no attorney will represent you if they believe your claims is unfounded or if you are exaggerating your injuries. 

How we help you protect your legal rights after a maritime work injury

We will only represent you if you have a valid case. And most seamen do have valid cases. This is why we tell you up front that your conversations with us are 100% confidential. If, after reviewing your case with you and answering all your questions, the best course of action is to file an injury claim, your company will have to be notified.

But up until that point, everything is private. We will frequently work with injured seamen behind the scenes if you aren’t sure if you need to file an injury claim yet. Sometimes, all you need is a second set of eyes looking over everything to make sure the company is complying with the law. We do that confidentially, for free.

Getting hurt offshore can mean your maritime career is over. But you don’t have to give in to intimidation tactics that are designed to save the company money and leave you high and dry. Our job is to make sure you have the help you need to protect your future and get your life back to normal. Don’t let the company get away with avoiding compensating you for your injuries. Contact us today for a free and confidential case review. Call us at 877-724-7800 or fill out a contact form.