Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in Worker Injuries | 1 comment

There has been a recent expansion in the definition of a seaman under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (Jones Act), a federal law protecting the rights of an injured seaman, to include particular shore-based maritime workers. If you have been seriously injured due to negligence while working in the maritime industry and you qualify as a seaman under the two-pronged Chandris test, you may be able to file a claim for damages against your employer. Here’s what to do.

Report It

Under the Jones Act, seamen have 7 days to report work-related injuries to a superior in order to qualify for damage recovery. However, a maritime lawyer would urge the injured worker to report the injury immediately to avoid casting doubt over the nature of the injury. The assumption is that if the injury is not reported as soon as possible, it was not serious at all.

State It

The next step is to file an accident report with your company (not the insurer) as soon as you are able to do so reliably. Make sure that you describe the incident sufficiently to indicate the negligence of the employer, if applicable, which is required to make a claim under the Jones Act. While this may be difficult to do, it will help your case considerably if you establish fault early on. You should also make sure that the injury was caused by negligence and serious enough to qualify under the Jones Act or you could be wasting everybody’s time and risking your job for no good purpose. Consult with a maritime lawyer before filing the accident report, or anything else for that matter.

Get Off

As soon as physically possible, get off the ship or shipyard and seek medical attention if you have not yet received more than emergency first aid. Your employer is obliged to ensure that you get proper medical attention by arranging for a medical evacuation when out to sea or in a foreign country with no qualified physician on board, or to go to a hospital when on shore. Once stabilized, seek your own doctor and strictly follow treatment orders to avoid casting doubt on the seriousness of your condition. Your employer’s insurer should be paying for your treatment; if not, consult with a maritime lawyer to find out if you can file a lawsuit, especially if you are looking at financial losses in excess of $15,000.

Settle or File

You can choose to accept a settlement from your employer’s insurer or file a Jones Act lawsuit. Just make sure that before you settle your case that you have explored the extent of your injury or you could be getting less compensation than you need, and once you settle you can no longer file a lawsuit to recover more damages. If the insurer is unwilling to settle the case to your satisfaction, then you will have to sue them.

One Comment

  1. 11-25-2014

    Good writing as always

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