What Do You Do After a Maritime Accident?
April 16, 2023
How Can Your Actions Following a Maritime Accident Protect Your Legal Rights?
As a maritime worker, you understand the risks inherent in your work, but do you know what to do if you’ve been injured in a maritime accident? By following the proper steps and seeking the advice of a skilled maritime accident lawyer, you can avoid endangering your access to the compensation and/or benefits you are entitled to. Read on for an explanation of the most important actions you can take and how they can benefit you following an on-the-job injury.
What Should You Do if You’ve Been Injured in a Maritime Accident?
The time after a maritime accident can be chaotic, and you may be uncertain about what to do next. However, your choices during this period can directly impact your ability to recover compensation and the value of your claim. Taking the following steps post-accident can safeguard your rights to compensation and benefits that can be crucial to you and your family as you go through the healing process.
Get Prompt Medical Attention
As with any accident, your first order of business following a maritime accident should be to protect your health. If your injury is severe, seek emergency medical attention. Even if you don’t feel injured after the incident, you should still get a prompt medical evaluation. Some severe injuries, including life-threatening brain trauma and internal bleeding, may not be immediately apparent due to the effects of adrenaline in your system. Back and neck injuries are notorious for delayed pain because the damaged tissues may swell over time and pinch nerves. Getting proper medical treatment right away can prevent your injury from getting worse.
The doctor’s evaluation and diagnosis provides necessary evidence of your injuries and ties them to your accident. Be sure to inform the doctor that your visit is related to an accident at your workplace.
Notify Your Employer
You should personally inform your employer of your maritime accident in a timely fashion if they are not already aware of it. You may need to complete forms or make a formal report if your workplace requires it, but you should speak with a lawyer before signing anything. If you need hospitalization or emergency treatment, a phone call explaining the situation will usually suffice until you have healed enough to make a more official report. Never assume that a co-worker has told your employer about your accident.
Accident scenes are often cleaned up quickly, and vital proof can be lost. To safeguard your claim, you should try to collect as much info as possible near the time of the accidents, including:
- Photos and videos of the accident scene.
- Documentation of your injuries.
- Information about any equipment or tools involved in the incident.
- Names and contact information of eyewitnesses.
You should also write down or make a voice recording of your recollection of the accident as soon as possible. This allows you to document important details while they are still fresh in your mind.
Contact a Trusted Lawyer
Maritime injury claims are different from traditional workers’ compensation claims. The process for resolving these cases can be highly complex and involves specific steps and deadlines. It is critical to enlist the services of a knowledgeable maritime worker injury lawyer who has experience with these types of cases. Your lawyer’s guidance and skills can be invaluable when navigating the claims process and dealing with your employer and their insurer.
Avoid Making Any Statements or Signing Documents
Following your maritime accident, you may receive requests for statements from your employer or their insurance company. You may even get a quick settlement offer from the insurer. You must remember that your employer and the insurance company are not necessarily looking out for your best interests at this time. Anything you say or sign has the potential to damage your ability to recover compensation for your injuries.
To ensure that your legal rights are fully protected, you should follow these guidelines:
- Do not discuss your case with anyone other than your lawyer.
- Never sign documents provided by your employer or their insurer without consulting your lawyer first.
- Avoid using social media until your case is resolved.
- Refer the insurance company to your lawyer if they ask for a statement.
- Do not agree to a settlement offer.
- If you are uncertain how to respond to a situation that arises, contact your lawyer before taking any action.
What Laws Govern Compensation for Individuals Injured in Maritime Accidents?
Maritime workers engage in potentially dangerous jobs daily as part of their employment. Unfortunately, even with strict safety measures in place, accidents can still occur. In the past, these employees faced challenges when trying to recover compensation or benefits for their injury-related damages because they were not covered by traditional employment laws. However, two crucial acts implemented by the government have made it easier for injured maritime workers to regain their financial stability following accidents.
The Jones Act
As part of the Jones Act, the federal government extended the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) to cover seamen who have suffered an injury while employed on a vessel. Under the FELA, seamen have the right to bring a personal injury lawsuit against their employer or co-workers if the incident occurred due to the negligence of others. This includes injuries caused by a vessel that was not seaworthy or a lack of adequate medical care.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA)
Individuals who work on docks, piers, drilling rigs, and other areas on or near navigable U.S. waterways are not covered by the Jones Act. However, they are eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits through the LHWCA.
Available benefits include payments for medical care, vocational rehabilitation, and a portion of lost wages after a person suffers a maritime injury at work.
How Can a Maritime Worker Injury Lawyer Assist You?
Maritime law can be complicated, and there are many steps to filing a successful claim following a work-related accident. The requirements for filing can vary based on your employment, where the accident occurred, and other factors. An experienced California maritime injury attorney can investigate your accident, collect evidence to support your claim, and help you get the compensation and/or benefits you deserve. Contact The Law Offices of Preston Easley at 310-361-9484 to speak with a knowledgeable lawyer who is ready to defend your legal rights.