The steps taken to file a claim under the Jones Act are all important and if just one is missed, the omission could be disastrous for your case. As a seaman it is important to know and understand your rights and to be aware of the process for filing a claim. It is also important that you rely on the knowledgeable advice of an attorney experienced with filing claims. As a seaman, you are entitled to maintenance and cure and if your employer is not providing it, you can file this claim and make your case.
Get a Complete and Official Accident Report
If you suffer an injury while working on a navigable vessel, whether it is moving through the water or at dock, you could be eligible for damages. Your employer may not want to recognize any negligence, which is why you may have to file a claim to get the compensation you deserve.
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The first, crucial step in the process is to file an official accident report through your employer. Your supervisor or manager should complete this report and include as much detail about the incident as possible. This will give your case the necessary information regarding the incident and whether or not your employer was negligible.
Rules for accident reports state that they must be filed within seven days of an incident. Don’t wait this long. Get the report taken care of immediately or you could be missing out on the damages you would otherwise receive with a successful Jones Act claim. Make sure your supervisor sends the report to your employer’s human resources department and that the Captain enters it into the ship’s log. The report will go from human resources to your employer’s insurance company.
Seek Medical Care
Of course, if you have been hurt at work, it is also important that you get the medical care you need. Even if the accident seems minor at the time, you should get medical care. A doctor can treat your injuries, but also will provide valuable information you need for a claim under the Jones Act. Together with the incident report, the documentation from your doctor will supply much of the evidence in the case that your employer was negligible.
If possible, get the medical care on the ship and ask for all official documentation from the doctor. Get copies of any diagnostic tests done as well. Keep receipts for all medical treatment you receive and pay for out of your own pocket. And remember to get the accident report done. When you’re hurt it can be easy to neglect important details. Even if your injuries are minor, don’t go back on duty until you have received documented medical care and have a completed accident report.
Find a Jones Act Attorney for a Consultation
Before you do anything else, like agree to any settlement with your employer, find an attorney who is knowledgeable about maritime law and has experience filing Jones Act claims for seamen. This expert can tell you what to do next and give you valuable advice regarding your claim, if filing one is necessary to get compensation for your injury.
When you meet with your attorney, bring all the necessary documentation, including the accident report, your medical records, and medical bills. Tell your lawyer the truth about what happened and include as much detail as you can accurately remember.
When you file a claim the burden of proof is on you as the plaintiff. You have to prove that you are a seaman by definition, that your employer was negligible in some way, and that this negligence led to your injury. An experienced attorney can help you do this when your employer or employer’s insurance company refuses payment or has denied you proper medical care.
It is essential that the lawyer you retain is experienced with making Jones Act claims. Maritime law is highly specialized and only an attorney with in-depth knowledge will be able to fight successfully for your rights under the Jones Act. With this expert backing and advice your claim stands the best chance.