Working on open water can be incredibly dangerous work, and the risks facing commercial fisherman and other seamen are unique to the jobs they perform. Because of this, the U.S. government passed special legislation in 1920 to protect seamen who get injured on the job. Called the Merchant Marine Act, more commonly known as the Jones Act, this regulation makes it possible for seamen to sue their employers for injuries sustained on the job in a number of situations.
If you are a seaman who was injured at work, here’s what you need to know about protecting your rights and pursuing the compensation you need to make yourself whole after this experience.
Like most work-related accidents, one of the first things you’ll need to do after suffering an on-the-job injury is to tell someone, most likely the captain or your supervisor. Technically you have seven days to report this injury, but sooner is always better in cases like this. The longer you wait, the more likely it is for an insurer or other party to doubt the actual cause of your injuries.
Doctor Doctor…Give Me the News
You were injured—it’s important to do something about it. If you suffered a serious injury, this should be obvious and should be done immediately—in fact, your employer will likely take steps to transport you to the appropriate medical authority. However, if you suffered a more minor injury, it’s important for you to still seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Seeking timely medical treatment is important for a number of reasons. Most importantly, you need to make sure you protect your health and well-being. However, if you wait too long to visit a doctor, just like waiting to report an injury in the first place, others could start to doubt the severity of the injury/injuries you’re claiming. Similarly, it’s important for you to follow all of your doctor’s orders and to attend any and all prescribed follow-up appointments.
It’s Time to Talk About It
Your company is going to want you to issue an official statement, like an accident report, about your accident and any resulting injuries. Make sure you’re as honest as possible when filling out this report, as any inconsistencies could hurt your chances to secure compensation down the road.
While filling out an official accident report, you may try to avoid giving an in-person or recorded statement to an insurance professional. Especially right after your accident, you could be confused or disoriented, and you don’t want anything you say to be misconstrued in a way that could give an insurer cause to deny your claim.
Get the Right Kind of Help
If you feel like your company’s insurer isn’t treating you fairly, if they’re failing to pay for your medical bills and recovery costs or what you feel you’re owed for your pain and suffering, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and contact a lawyer for help. You don’t have forever to file a lawsuit against your employer, so make sure you take action before it’s too late. Remember, talking to an attorney doesn’t mean you have to file a Jones Act claim, but you can’t take legal action without first taking this very important step.
The sooner you talk to an experienced Jones Act lawyer, the sooner they can get to work protecting your rights and your future. Here at Chenkin Law Firm, we’ve worked with seamen injured in a wide variety of accidents, and we’re here to help you on your path to recovery. Call us today at (800) 721-7472 and let us take on your employer and their insurer while you focus on more important matters.