Jones Act claims disputes happen when an employer wants to fight the claim and avoid compensating the injured seaman. A disagreement does not mean the injured seaman cannot get compensation. They can take steps to resolve the issue through a settlement process or arbitration with the help of an experienced lawyer.
About the Jones Act
The Jones Act gives injured seamen the right to sue an employer for damages when injured on the job. If you have been injured while working as a seaman and feel your employer’s negligence played a part, you may be prepared to file a Jones Act claim.
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Several things can go wrong when making a Jones Act claim. You should also be prepared to face a dispute. With the guidance of an experienced lawyer, you can make the best case for your claim and be prepared to stand up against any conflicts.
Reasons for Jones Act Claims Disputes
Employers and their insurance companies often dispute Jones Act claims. They do so primarily to avoid paying injured workers compensation.
Even if they know they were negligent in the injury, employers will often test the will of an injured worker by disputing a claim. If you, as an injured seaman, are not prepared to make your case, these disputes can end up in favor of your employer.
Employers may give any number of official reasons for disputing or denying a Jones Act Claim:
- Denial of liability. A dispute of a Jones Act claim may cite denial of liability as a reason. As the injured party, the burden of proof is on the seaman to demonstrate that the employer was negligent and contributed to the injury. The burden of proof is low, but employers can still dispute that negligence.
- Lack of evidence. An employer may have been negligent in your accident, but you might lack the evidence to prove it if no one else witnessed it.
- The accident report was late. Whenever an accident occurs on a vessel, it needs to be reported immediately to a supervisor. That supervisor must then complete a thorough accident report. If you are injured and wait to report it, you could put yourself in a bad position, and your employer can cite it as a reason for disputing your Jones Act claim.
- Medical records don’t match the accident report. You could also be facing a dispute if your medical records from the treatment of the injury don’t align with the accident report. Your employer could use any discrepancy to dispute your claim and avoid paying damages.
How to Prevent a Jones Act Claim Dispute
You can’t always avoid a dispute when you file a Jones Act claim. Most employers, and indeed most insurance companies, will avoid paying whenever possible. It is in their best interests to make a dispute and try to avoid payment.
Make your Jones Act claim as strong as possible to limit the chance of facing a dispute:
Complete a Detailed Accident Report Immediately
One of the most important things you can do is get an accident report completed soon after the incident. If you wait, the extent and nature of your injury and how it relates to the accident could be questioned.
You must complete the report while the incident is fresh in the memories of those who witnessed it to make the strongest case.
Get Immediate Medical Treatment
You must also get treated for your injury right away and keep accurate medical records. These will help to make your case. Without them, you are vulnerable to a dispute.
Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
Carefully follow your doctor’s advice and don’t return to work before they recommend it. If you do, your employer could claim that your injury was less severe because you returned to work early.
Hire a Jones Act Lawyer
Finally, the most important thing you can do to ensure you make a strong case that stands up against a dispute is to work with an experienced Jones Act lawyer.
How to Settle Jones Act Claim Disputes
The best way to settle a Jones Act claim dispute is to allow for settlement negotiations between your lawyer and employer.
Your lawyer is the best person to handle the situation. They have experience negotiating with employers and insurers and can get you the best outcome.
If you are faced with a dispute from your employer, you may have to go through a long process of investigation to resolve the issue. Experts will investigate the situation and determine whether there was negligence on the employer’s part.
When these two parties cannot come to an agreement or a settlement for the claim, it may go to court or arbitration. Continue the process to get a good result. Employers are often waiting for the worker to give up on the process
To protect yourself and your rights when you have a Jones Act claim, it is essential to trust your case to a professional who is knowledgeable and experienced with maritime law. This will give you the best chance of avoiding or overcoming a dispute and getting compensation.