Injuries are common for seamen, longshoremen, offshore oil rig workers, and other maritime workers. If you were injured on the job, you can file a claim or lawsuit for compensation. It will likely end in a settlement.
What to Do When Injured on the Job
It’s not difficult to get hurt on the job, and if you do, there are some essential steps you need to take to ensure you can get access to compensation. The two most important things to do are get medical treatment and ensure that an accident report is filed.
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Get Medical Treatment
Your health and well-being should be the priority. Depending on your injuries’ seriousness, you may need medical treatment first. Keep records of your treatment. These will be important later.
File an Incident Report
As soon after the accident as possible, get an accident report on file at work. Along with medical treatment documentation, this will help you make your case if you have to fight for compensation.
If you do everything right and your employer denies you that money or tries to offer you a smaller amount than you think you deserve, you can fight to get more.
You can do this by filing a claim under an applicable law. For instance, you will file a claim under the Jones Act if you qualify as a seaman. To help you figure out which law applies and how to proceed, find an experienced maritime attorney.
What You Can Recover in a Settlement
Once you have filed a claim, your next step will likely be a settlement. You will want an experienced lawyer to represent you and argue your case.
This representative will do their best to get you the maximum settlement possible. To determine what you are owed, you need to consider medical bills, both those you have already incurred and those for any future treatment you may need.
You should also consider lost wages and even lost future wages. If you are permanently disabled, you may not be able to earn as much as you did before the accident.
Maritime injury settlements may also compensate for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and benefits for dependent loved ones.
Settlement Mistakes to Avoid
In fighting for the compensation you are owed, many possible missteps may result in you not getting as much money as you need or even none.
- Not working with a maritime lawyer. A big mistake you might make is not using the services of an experienced lawyer. The claims and settlement process is complicated, and you need the expertise of this professional to help you get the maximum compensation.
- Settling too soon. Another mistake you might make is settling for an initial offer from your employer. Your employer may want you to sign away your right to ask for future compensation by offering you an immediate but small amount. Never accept an offer without speaking to an attorney first.
- Delaying action. Finally, a common mistake too many injured maritime workers make is waiting too long to act. Most federal maritime laws have a statute of limitations. Get your accident report, medical treatment, and records, and decide quickly whether you need to file a claim. Again, a lawyer can help you make this choice, ensure you don’t miss deadlines, and forfeit your right to get compensation from a settlement.
What Does a Maritime Settlement Cover?
Compensation on the table in most settlements will vary depending on the situation and the law that applies in the case. If you were injured on the job, there are many ways in which the accident could cost you money:
- There are immediate medical bills, but there may also be future ones.
- If you can’t return to work, you have lost wages to consider.
- If your injury is permanent, you may even face a long-term wage reduction you can earn.
- Additionally, you may face pain and suffering, mental anguish, or survivor benefits if you depend on a loved one who died on the job.
You can address all of these in a settlement.
Examples of Maritime Settlements
Personal injury settlements for maritime workers occur all the time. Injuries are common in maritime settings, and not all employers will pay out until forced.
Claims filed by injured workers are likely to end in settlements because they are easier and faster than trials. Many settlements are small, but some are large and newsworthy.
The El Faro Sinking
The U.S. ship El Faro sank in 2015 in a hurricane. All 33 crew members went down with the ship. The families of these unfortunate crew members were entitled to compensation and were offered $500,000 each in a settlement.
Mooring Line Accident
In an even larger case, a man working aboard a ship suffered severe injuries following an accident with a mooring line. The seaman had been mooring the ship to a tugboat, and before he had completed the task, his captain signaled the tug to move forward.
The moor line snapped back and struck the seaman resulting in multiple, lasting injuries, including brain damage. Because of the captain’s error and the long-term nature of the injuries, the seaman could collect $2 million in a settlement under the Jones Act.
When a Settlement Cannot Be Resolved
Not all maritime injury settlements end satisfactorily for both sides. If you are negotiating a settlement for injury compensation and don’t like what is offered, you don’t have to accept it. The settlement can go to arbitration, but you must abide by the third-party decision.
Another option may be to take your case to trial. In this situation, a judge or a jury will decide your case, but unlike arbitration, your lawyer will have the chance to litigate and argue your case.
If you are faced with an injury that occurred at your maritime job, you have a right to receive adequate compensation for such things as medical expenses and lost wages. If you are forced to file a claim for that compensation, you will likely end up in a settlement. With the guidance of an experienced maritime attorney, you should be able to get a satisfactory result.