Whether you work on a fishing vessel or a cargo ship, your job involves lots of hands-on work. But when the worst happens and a mistake or accident leads to a serious injury for you, you may not know what to do or where to turn.
While standard workers’ compensation laws don’t cover seamen, the Jones Act does give maritime workers the right to recover compensation for their injuries. Because you are still eligible to recover damages, there are several important steps you should take in order to do so.
1. Report your injury
Reporting your injury and the accident that caused it is crucial in a situation like this. The company or business you work for needs to file reports of any accidents, injuries or safety violations for insurance purposes.
In addition, you should report your injury as soon as possible because the Jones Act has a limited window — called a statute of limitations — during which you can file for compensation. From the time of your injury, you have three years to file a claim. While this might seem like a long time, some injuries might cause unanticipated long-term problems that compensation cannot cover after the three years have passed.
2. Seek medical attention
Your employer has an obligation to make sure you receive medical treatment for your injury. In serious cases when you’re still out at sea at the time of the injury, they should see to it that help comes to you. Otherwise, you should visit a doctor as soon as you are able.
While your injury might require extensive medical treatment, invasive surgeries and a long recovery, you may be able to recover these expenses with help from the Jones Act. Don’t let the daunting prospect of expensive medical bills stop you from getting the help you need.
3. Avoid giving statements
An insurance company will likely reach out to you to get the details of what happened. However, insurance companies usually want to settle your claim for as little money as possible. Because of this, a claims adjuster will look for any cracks in your story to use as an excuse for a smaller pay out.
Instead of speaking directly with an insurance company, it might benefit your case to seek the assistance of a maritime law attorney who can help you protect your rights and fight for the benefits you need to recover.