7 Mistakes to Avoid When You Have a Jones Act Claim
If you work on a boat, ship or floating rig, you can seek benefits under the Jones Act when you get injured on the job. The Jones Act is a federal law that applies specifically to maritime and offshore workers, and it provides protections when state workers’ compensation laws do not.
But, the Jones Act is not simply a workers’ compensation statute. In many cases, maritime and offshore workers can seek compensation above and beyond standard workers’ compensation benefits. With that said, collecting this compensation is not easy, so it is important to have an experienced Jones Act lawyer on your side.
What Not to Do When You Have a Jones Act Claim for a Maritime or Offshore Injury
To make sure you are able to collect the compensation you deserve under the Jones Act, there are several costly mistakes you need to avoid. Some of the most important mistakes to avoid include:
1. Misunderstanding Your Jones Act Claim
Under state workers’ compensation laws, injured workers can obtain medical benefits for their treatment, and they can collect medical benefits if they miss a certain minimum number of days from work. Injured workers are limited to seeking these “no-fault” benefits, and they cannot sue their employers under any (or almost any) circumstances.
But, as a maritime or offshore worker, your rights under the Jones Act are different. While the Jones Act provides for “no-fault” benefits, these benefits are generally less than those available to land-based workers. However, unlike land-based workers, you may be able to sue your employer for your on-the-job injury. Under the Jones Act, eligible “seamen” can sue for injuries caused by negligence and unseaworthy conditions, and filing a lawsuit allows you to seek full compensation for your lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses.
2. Waiting Until You Get Back to Land
To ensure that you are able to seek maximum compensation for your injury, you need to take some important steps before you get back to land (if possible). For example, you should seek treatment immediately, and you should report your injury right away. You should also try to take photos and videos of where you got injured, and you should take notes while the details of the accident are still fresh in your mind.
3. Letting Your Ship Captain or Employer Tell You What to Do
When you get injured on the job, you should not let your ship captain or employer tell you what to do. This is unfortunate, but you cannot be sure that the captain or your employer will have your best interests in mind. It is also entirely possible that they won’t have a clear understanding of your legal rights under the Jones Act, and, as a result, they may give you bad advice that prevents you from obtaining the full financial compensation you deserve.
What should you do after getting injured onboard a boat, ship or floating platform? Along with reporting your accident, documenting your accident and getting treatment, you should also talk to a Jones Act lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will have your best interests in mind, and your lawyer will be able to take action on your behalf to maximize your chances of a full financial recovery.
4. Getting Back to Work Too Soon
When you are out of work, it can be tempting to get back to work as soon as possible. But you need to resist the temptation to get back to work too soon. If you return to work before you are fully healed, not only could you put yourself at risk for a secondary injury, but you could also make it much more difficult for yourself to collect full compensation under the Jones Act.
5. Ignoring Your Doctor’s Advice
Along with resting until your body is fully recovered, you also need to follow all of your doctor’s other advice carefully. Go to your appointments, go to physical therapy and get your prescriptions filled. If you ignore your doctor’s advice, this could make your condition worse or prolong your recovery, and this could give your employer justification to deny full Jones Act benefits.
6. Accepting What Your Employer Pays You
No matter what, you should not simply accept what your employer pays you for your injury. If your employer pays voluntarily, the amount you receive will almost certainly be far less than you deserve. In most cases, employers only offer to settle when they know that they are at risk of facing substantial liability for negligence or unseaworthiness.
7. Trying to Handle Your Claim Without a Jones Act Lawyer
Given all of the challenges involved in collecting the financial compensation you deserve, you should not try to handle your claim on your own. Instead, you should put an experienced Jones Act lawyer on your side. When you hire a lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will take several steps to help you recover maximum compensation. This includes steps such as:
- Conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of your accident
- Filing your Jones Act claim correctly and on time
- Proving your eligibility for “no-fault” maintenance and cure benefits
- Proving negligence or unseaworthiness
- Negotiating for a favorable settlement and going to court if necessary
While these are some of the most important mistakes to avoid when you have a Jones Act claim, there are many other mistakes that can also jeopardize your claim for benefits. Again, an experienced Jones Act lawyer can help, and the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to seek advice from a lawyer as soon as possible.
Request a Free Consultation with a Jones Act Lawyer at Brais Law Firm
Are you entitled to financial compensation for a maritime or offshore injury? To find out, schedule a free consultation with a Jones Act lawyer at Brais Law Firm. Call 800-499-0551 or contact us online to get started today.