Federal maritime laws are in place to protect workers and to provide money for accident-related expenses. If you are being denied compensation, you can file a claim and a lawsuit to get that money. Most of these cases get settled out of court, but when the dispute cannot be resolved, it may go to a maritime injury trial to be decided by a judge or jury.
There are many ways in which you may be injured while working at a maritime job. If you are a seaman stationed on a vessel at sea, you may face long working hours, grueling physical work, rough waters, and bad weather conditions.
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Maritime workers are at risk of being injured by:
- Shifting cargo
- Fishing equipment
- Fish processing equipment
- Onboard fires
- Other workers
- Falls overboard
- Trips and falls from staircases and walkways
Even if you are not a seaman, but you work in the industry either as a longshoreman or harbor worker or as an offshore worker, you face a lot of hazards in your work, including:
- Equipment malfunctions
- Crane accidents
- Truck accidents
- Cargo accidents
- Personnel carrier accidents
- Falling into the water
No matter how you are injured on the job or what that job is, if you are hurt, you have rights, and those need to be recognized by your employer.
Several maritime laws ensure that workers in all areas of the industry are entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
You must be smart about your actions after getting hurt to ensure you get what you deserve. It is essential to get immediate medical treatment and keep records of that treatment, and it is also necessary to get an accident report completed and filed.
Filing a Maritime Injury Claim
Taking those steps after being injured is crucial because many injured workers will face an employer or employer’s insurance company refusing to pay out. Many employers will try to get workers to settle for a small amount and to sign away their rights to sue later for more damages.
If you have been hurt, you must take action quickly to get medical care and an accident report, but never sign or agree to a settlement without considering all your options.
Your detailed and timely accident report will help your claim because it should provide information about what happened so that blame can be found or you can be sure you are not blamed for doing something wrong.
Your medical records also help your claim by proving that your accident caused injuries or illness. These should be completed as soon as possible after an accident so that all information is fresh in witnesses’ minds and most likely accurate.
Filing the Claim
You can file a claim under federal maritime laws if you believe you are entitled to more than your employer offers. This may end in your employer giving in and paying you, going into a settlement, or even going into a maritime injury trial to find a resolution.
Regardless of how it ends, it all begins with that claim. If you are unsure which claim to file, which law applies to you, or what step to take next, your best move is to consult an experienced maritime lawyer for advice. This professional can help you maneuver the complicated laws and represent you against your employer’s lawyers.
Finding a Maritime Lawyer
Getting an excellent maritime lawyer is crucial when you have been injured and are considering filing a claim. You need their expertise to get through the process without making mistakes and to get all the compensation you are owed.
Whether your case goes to trial or not, a lawyer will know what steps to take, how to file, and what forms are necessary, and can help settle your case, either in a settlement or by litigating a trial.
Make sure you find a lawyer who has had previous success in getting injured workers compensation and who will be willing to go to trial if necessary.
Settlement or Trial?
If your claim reaches the settlement stage, your lawyer will try to get you the maximum compensation. However, you always have the right to reject a settlement and take your case to trial.
You have to weigh the likelihood of a judge or jury sympathizing with you against your employer with the amount your employer guarantees you will get in a settlement. It is a tough choice, and a lawyer can give you good advice.
Not many cases go to trial, as settlements are easier and less expensive. There have been some high-profile cases, though, and many have ended in favor of the injured worker.
Whether or not you have the right to go to trial by jury or in front of the judge depends on the state, the court, and other factors. This complication is yet another reason it is so important to rely on the expertise of a maritime lawyer to navigate the system.
In one interesting and important recent case, a U.S. District Judge decided that plaintiffs suing BP over the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico had the right to demand a jury trial.
The plaintiffs have long been engaged in a class action suit over the right to medical benefits. The decision could have far-reaching implications but ensured these injured workers could take their case to a jury.
Maritime injury trials are not common, but they are sometimes necessary. If you are injured, denied benefits, and are unhappy with settlement offers, you may choose to take your case to trial. If you do, be prepared for a long road ahead.
Trials don’t often happen in injury cases because they take a lot of time and cost a lot of money when all is said and done. However, should your case go to trial with a good lawyer or team of lawyers at your side, you should be able to get satisfaction and compensation, no matter what you decide regarding a trial.