What a seaman needs to do to protect themselves after an injury?

Dennis Sullivan

If you are a seaman, and working on a tug, boat, barge, ship or rig, and you have been injured on the job, you probably have many questions as to what you should do in order to protect yourself and your family.  Accidents rarely just happen. “Accidents” happen because someone’s negligence caused a failure of a safety rule, requirement or simply common sense. This negligence could be by the owner of the vessel, or, by the vessel’s officers, employees, a fellow seaman, or your employer.  The law allows you to recover damages as a result of injuries received due to the negligence of others. You, as the injured person, need to prove that someone’s negligence caused your injury. Experienced Jones Act maritime personal injury lawyers Stepp & Sullivan can help you with your claim.

There are some things that you need to do, however, in order to pursue your claim so that you can obtain all of the damages and money you deserve.

You must report your injury as soon as you realize you are hurt. Most companies have an injury reporting process, and most require that an incident report be filled out for any incident, accident or near-miss.  The company may try to limit your words, or put words in your mouth when you fill out this incident form. Do not let them do that. You should honestly state what your injury is, and how the injury happened, and make sure that your words are used, and that they are not changed by anyone.     

If you are injured while working aboard a tug, boat, barge, ship or rig, it is very important that you see a doctor as soon as possible, so that your injuries can be treated immediately.  Many times, captains or owners want to delay sending injured workers to the doctor because it is inconvenient, could affect the work or the timeliness of the work being performed, or reporting such or sending you to a doctor could affect lost time incident reporting, which in some cases, may affect end of year evaluations and bonus’.   You need to make it clear to the captain or the company that you need to see a doctor immediately, and that you cannot wait to do so. It is your right, under the law, to see a doctor. 

It is very important that you make sure there is a medical record of your treatment.

There are many times that what appears to be a minor injury, is actually a very serious one.  As a result, immediate medical attention where your injury is documented can help you in making your Jones Act maritime personal injury claim. 

Many times, when a Jones Act seaman reports an injury, the seaman is asked or instructed to keep working.  Do not work if you are injured. You do not want to worsen your injury. Make sure the Captain or owners, and your employer know that you need to see a doctor immediately.  By trying to “work through” the injury and pain you could injure yourself more, or worsen your condition and the company or their insurance may claim that you were not injured at all because you continued to work.  

You may be visited by a company man, or a company lawyer, who will ask you about your injuries and the incident.  You should tell the truth, but, at no time should you provide a statement. You are under no obligation to provide a statement to anyone.  The company will try to get a statement from you limiting their liability for your injuries. The statement is not something that is being done to help you, it is being done to try to protect the company from being held responsible for their own negligence.  If you are asked to write a statement, sign a statement, answer questions while being recorded, simply decline to do so. In addition, if you are being questioned by the company, ask them if the conversation is being recorded, and get them to tell you that it is not. 

When you are asked to fill out paperwork or are visited by the company man to talk about your injury, you will be asked to specifically tell what caused the injury.  If you do not know exactly why the incident happened, or who was responsible for it, you should stop the interview, or filling out the form, and immediately call an experienced Jones Act maritime lawyer at Stepp & Sullivan.  Many times injured workers are “tricked” into blaming themselves for the incident, or saying something that they really do not believe. 

It is important that you contact an experienced Jones Act maritime lawyer so that all of your rights are protected.  Contact the experienced Jones Act maritime lawyers at Stepp & Sullivan today so that your rights are fully protected.

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