Know Your Maritime Workers Rights: When and Why to File for Compensation

Are you an offshore worker who suffered an injury? As the injured party, you have rights under maritime injury law. Maritime injuries entitle you to the same types of damages as any other victim.

However, the legal process can be complicated because your injury took place offshore. If you’re not careful, your employer and/or an insurance company can minimize your injuries or outright deny your benefits. To be on the safe side, hire an attorney to safeguard your rights.

This article will provide an in-depth look into maritime law. Let’s dive in.

How Can I Sue Someone for Maritime Injuries? 

The Jones Act allows victims to receive monetary compensation. The Jones Act is a federal law allowing crew works and seamen to receive compensation for injuries sustained offshore.

It allows you to receive economic and non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. Before the Jones Act, victims had little recourse when it came to holding negligent parties liable. However, not every offshore worker qualifies.

Without the Jones Act, crew members could only sue under maritime common law, which entitled them to medical compensation and some lost wages. However, the Jones Act allows you to recover more losses. Under the Jones Act, you can sue the following offending parties:

  • Owners
  • Managers
  • Co-workers

Overall, you can sue anyone responsible for your injuries. For instance, perhaps the negligent party gave a careless directive that caused you to hurt yourself.

What Types of Damages Can I Win? 

The Jones Act allows you to win the following types of compensation:

Economic Damage

Under this category, you can win:

  • Medical Bills: Negligent parties will cover all current and future medical expenses.
  • Rehabilitation Costs: This type of compensation can cover physical therapy and other future costs associated with recovery.
  • Lost Wages: You can receive lost wages that you missed due to your injuries. You can also win future lost wages.

Non-Economic Damage

This category covers the emotional and mental fallouts. The category breaks down as follows:

  • Pain and Suffering: Pain-and-suffering awards will cover physical, emotional, and mental turmoil. You may be entitled to damages if you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Moreover, general anger and frustration could qualify as pain and suffering.
  • Loss of Companionship: This category can apply if you lost a loved one during the accident. Also, it applies if the accident changed the relationship between you and a loved one in some way.
  • Loss of Enjoyment: You may not be able to do certain activities or hobbies after the incident. The court can provide a loss-of-enjoyment award if your quality of life has diminished.

What Should I Do If I Sustained an Injury? 

To win your case effectively, you must take the following steps:

1. Seek Medical Attention

If you have an injury and your employer knows about it, they should get you medical attention. From there, a doctor will treat your wounds and make sure you don’t have any hidden injuries.

Then, you can document your wounds accordingly. If you sustained an injury without your employer’s knowledge, notify them immediately.

2. Document Your Injuries

A doctor can document all of your injuries extensively. You should have medical documentation showcasing your injuries.

Failure to leave a medical paper trail allows the courts and defense attorneys to question your claim. Therefore, save all invoices and medical bills that you incurred. You’ll need medical documents for your civil trial or insurance case.

3. Document the Scene 

After, take photos or videos of the scene. Capture any equipment or item that caused the injury. Talk to witnesses who saw the accident.

If they give permission, record your conversation with them. Collect their contact information, as they’ll be vital assets during a civil trial.

4. Don’t Sign Any Documents 

During the evidence-gathering process, your employer’s insurance company may ask you to give an official statement. In other cases, your employer may ask you directly. Don’t sign anything or give a statement.

Any statement can be used against you during a civil trial. Additionally, you shouldn’t sign any insurance documents.

Plus, an insurance company may offer a fast settlement to close the case. Reject the offer immediately.

In most cases, insurance companies offer low payouts to victims, hoping they’re desperate enough to accept the money. Overall, don’t make any move until you have an attorney.

Why Should I Hire a Lawyer?

A lawyer will help you invoke your rights during the insurance or legal process. That said, you shouldn’t hire any lawyer.

Instead, hire a maritime injury lawyer who is familiar with maritime law. In general, maritime law can get complex due to the various statutes involved.

Additionally, you need a lawyer because maritime law generally doesn’t require workers’ comp benefits. An attorney can ensure you receive all the benefits as prescribed under the Jones Act.

Also, your attorney is the only person you should talk to about your case. Don’t discuss your case with your employer or the insurance carrier.

Also, don’t post any case details on social media. The other side can use anything you post on social media against you.

Victims Rights and Maritime Injury Law

Maritime injury law is different from conventional law. Under maritime common law, you can receive limited damages. However, the Jones Act allows you to obtain more compensation in the event of an injury.

With that, the Jones Act doesn’t guarantee damage awards. To bolster your chances of a case victory, contact an attorney who is familiar with maritime law. They can help you create a compelling case that insurance companies and defense attorneys cannot refute.