If you believe you have a Jones Act claim, here’s what you need to do next:
Jones Act claims and maritime injury claims can be very valuable. That’s why some companies fight you every step of the way. They think it will be cheaper if they can convince you to take a settlement that’s worth a fraction of your actual medical bills and injuries. They think they can trick you into signing away your legal rights. But you know what company tricks to watch out for and how to protect your legal rights.
Once you know you have a claim, it helps to know what to expect in the lawsuit process and what your settlement may be. While no lawyer can guarantee you anything about how long your case will take or what amount you will receive in your pocket, we can tell you what to expect to happen based on our years of experience.
Whether you work on an oceangoing vessel, tugboat, or drilling rig, you know you work in a potentially dangerous environment every day. Here are some crucial things you should know in order for you to collect Jones Act benefits. First, you must be able to prove that your employer’s negligence contributed to what happened to you. If you are successful, you may be entitled to compensation for:
However, there are some benefits that seamen have access to regardless of the part their employer may have played in their injuries. In many cases, the right to maintenance and cure goes hand-in-hand with your Jones Act rights.
Under maritime laws, a seaman who is hurt or becomes ill while working on a vessel is eligible for “maintenance and cure.” You do not have to prove negligence or wrongdoing in order to receive these benefits, which cover the payment of reasonable medical and living expenses until you reach maximum medical “cure.” If you have questions about these rights, or if you have been hurt at work without receiving compensation, don’t hesitate to start investigating your rights with an experienced attorney.
If you have seen doctors for your injuries, you may make a claim to get your medical bills paid. Under the Jones Act, this might include the following costs:
While it makes sense for an employer to help pay your medical bills after an injury the company is responsible for, you should be aware that there is sometimes more to your costs than just doctor and hospital visits. Bills pile up when you get hurt. From car payments and mortgages to grocery bills and your power bill, your life continues even though you’re not working.
Part of maintenance and cure is that, for maintenance, your company is supposed to pay you a daily, living wage. What the company calls a living wage and what the average person calls a living wage can be very different. If your company is not paying you any maintenance, or they are trying to get away with paying you $27 a day, consult a lawyer immediately. An experienced Jones Act lawyer will fight the company to get your maintenance increased to a reasonable amount. Some maritime companies will stoop to playing tricks on you to avoid paying you what you are owed under federal law.
Despite the Jones Act and other maritime laws, some offshore employers will go to great lengths to avoid paying seamen the compensation they deserve after they’ve been hurt. Some employers may try to minimize injuries, mislead workers about their rights, or even blame the injured workers for the accident. For example, an employer may try to claim that you aren’t eligible for Jones Act benefits for an injury because:
Whether or not an employer is telling the truth, seamen who find themselves in this situation may accept the denial because they aren’t sure about their rights and don’t want to face potential retaliation from their employers.
Although some workers have no problem seeing a doctor and going through the process of filing for Jones Act benefits after an injury at sea, there are many others who are surprised to find that their employers won’t help them get the medical care they need. Whether you have been prevented from seeing a doctor entirely or subjected to a biased or cursory examination by a company doctor, you still have a right to get the care you need. Here are two steps you can take to make sure you have the best chance at recovery:
If you’ve been hurt while working on a vessel or rig, your company may not be telling you everything you need to know. It’s up to you to get informed about your rights under the law—and what you can do to get the help you need.
If you are eligible for compensation under the Jones Act, you may be able to fight an unfair denial, even if your employer has refused to take responsibility for your medical bills. However, to do so, you will need the assistance of a skilled attorney who has experience in successfully pursuing Jones Act and other offshore injury cases. An attorney can help by:
Ultimately, whether or not you can successfully fight a denied claim depends on the details of your situation. If you have been denied benefits under the Jones Act or only received partial benefits, there may be a good reason—or there’s a good chance that your employer is simply attempting to avoid paying you the benefits you deserve.
You don’t have to swallow your employer’s excuses for not paying you the benefits you are entitled to under the law. To start taking action today, reach out to us at 877-724-7800 or fill out the contact form on this page. In a free and confidential case review, an experienced attorney will investigate the details of your injury and help you get answers.