When dealing with an offshore injury, a maritime lawyer is the expert to bring in. There are a number of special exceptions and powers given to people who work at sea, most of them contained in the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, otherwise known as the Jones Act. The Jones Act alters the course of accident claims in a couple of meaningful ways, but the process can seem overwhelming to a victim. However, an experienced maritime attorney will be able to guide a victim through the legal process and help procure the best possible settlement.
WHY IS AN OFFSHORE INJURY LAWYER SUCH AN IMPORTANT ALLY DURING THE CLAIM PROCESS?
When someone is hurt at sea, the first thing they will likely have to do is file an accident report for their company. These reports do serve a valuable purpose for an employer, but they are often used to intimidate victims as well, as they require workers to state whom they believe to be at fault. If the worker blames an employer, they will likely find it difficult to receive additional work. If they don’t lay fault on the employer, though, it will be difficult to win a claim, even if the employer is clearly to blame. As such, by the time a hurt worker has a chance to seek medical attention and consider hiring an attorney, they have already complicated their work situation.
An experienced offshore injury lawyer knows this, and will do everything possible to prove the victim’s case to the court. Fortunately for maritime professionals, they have the Jones Act on their side. Because hurt maritime workers are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, they are given the ability, through the Jones Act, to pursue a claim of negligence against an employer. This is unique among workers, as workers’ compensation programs typically eliminate a hurt worker’s right to sue an employer for negligence in exchange for benefits.
The Jones Act also softens the burden of proof required from the victim, so the employer’s liability is typically much higher than it would be normally. An offshore injury lawyer will take this into account, using seemingly minor details to support a victim’s case. For example, if a worker is hurt when a tool falls on their head, the employer may be considered completely liable for not providing a way for workers to secure their tools.
Also, hurt workers are entitled to maintenance and cure through the Jones Act, which protects the hurt worker before they are able to be transferred to a medical facility. Maintenance and cure means the employer provides compensation for the worker’s medicinal needs, room and board, and some other expenses until the victim has reached maximal recovery. However, many employers fail to pay out benefits for this long, which is something an offshore injury lawyer will use against the defense if relevant.
Pain, lingering health complications and losing the ability to work can take a huge toll on a victim. But with an expert legal advisor, some of that toll can be blunted.