When you work in a maritime industry, you are surrounded by workplace hazards. As a result, you likely received safety training to help you avoid workplace accidents. But accidents can happen despite our best intentions. This makes it a good idea to also learn how to act in case of an injury.
The Jones Act may be the most well-known of the nation’s maritime laws, but it’s not the only one. Maritime cases may draw upon any of a variety of laws, meaning it’s easy for injured workers to be confused or make mistakes. So, here are six common mistakes to avoid if you are injured at sea or during other maritime work.
Failing to report your accident
You need to report your accident to your supervisor. However, you should make sure the report is complete before you sign and submit it. Also, you should not let your employer pressure you into agreeing the accident was your fault. This is a common trick that can hurt your chances for full recovery.
Failing to file
If your health insurance picks up a good chunk of the bill, you might not think to file. But that decision could cost you the lost wages and other compensation your employer may owe you. Additionally, your case comes with deadlines, so if you don’t file before you hit the deadlines, you may never get another chance.
Not getting a second opinion
Your vessel’s doctor or a company physician may examine you and present you with a diagnosis. But it’s important to remember that these people are company employees. While they may want to help you recover, their reports may also minimize your injuries. This could lower your employer’s liability-and your potential compensation. It’s generally a good idea to get a second opinion from a doctor with no ties to your employer.
Trusting your memory
Everyone’s memory gets fuzzy as time passes. But you want a good record of the facts. This means you want to document as much as possible. How you got hurt. What was going on around you. Any instructions someone gave you. When you met with doctors. What they said. These specifics can make your claim stronger.
Returning to work too early
If you return to work before you’ve adequately recovered, you risk hurting yourself again. Additionally, you may hurt your case. Your employer may use your quick return as evidence the damages weren’t so bad as you claimed-even if you have a doctor’s statement that says otherwise.
Accepting a lowball insurance offer
Employers and insurance companies often move quickly after maritime accidents. They want to catch workers while they’re still unsure about the values of their claims and then offer as little as they can. It’s often best to explore the value of your claim before you sign a settlement agreement.
A bad settlement can hurt nearly as much as the injury
The federal government understands that the maritime industry is dangerous. That’s why it has laws to support and protect you.
If you’re injured at work, you deserve the full support and protection these laws offer. That means finding the help you need, avoiding these common mistakes and getting the recovery you deserve.