Do Preexisting Medical Conditions Change Jones Act Claims?

When workers sustain offshore injuries, defense attorneys often try to limit their ability to recover losses by asserting that they were injured before the accident. They argue that preexisting conditions can exasperate injuries caused by accidents and, as a result, mitigate or eliminate a company’s responsibility to provide compensation for them.

Using pre-existing medical conditions as a defense is common in personal injury claims. However, the law applies a little bit differently if the injuries happened while working offshore.

Preexisting Medical Conditions, Offshore Injuries, & the Jones Act

Offshore workers may be covered by a law known as the Jones Act. The Jones Act enables offshore workers to recover compensation for hardships caused by accidents. This includes the cost of medical bills, future care needs, and any other expense related to the incident such as lost wages.

A company may try to avoid paying an injured worker the full compensation they deserve using something known as the McCorpen Defense. The McCorpen Defense can excuse a company's obligation to pay maintenance and cure if (1) an injured worker intentionally and knowingly withheld information about a pre-existing medical condition from the company during the hiring process; (2) the non-disclosed facts were important to the company's decision to hire the injured worker; and (3) there is a link between the concealed pre-existing injury and the new injury.

Evoking the McCorpen Defense is a common tactic in offshore injury cases, but the application of the law is complex. If the McCorpen Defense comes up in a case, it is important to have a lawyer who understands the legal framework that applies. Arnold & Itkin LLP has successfully defeated many McCorpen claims, recovering billions of dollars for clients facing difficult situations.

Protecting Yourself From the McCorpen Defense

If you have been injured offshore and have a preexisting medical condition, it’s possible the company will attempt to use that condition against you—even if it has no association with your newest injuries. It is important that you have an attorney that is intimately familiar with the Jones Act and other parts of maritime law to make sure your legal rights are fully protected.

At Arnold & Itkin, we have a history of getting results from resistant offshore companies. When TOTE Maritime recklessly sent a ship into a hurricane, we fought their tactics until the crew’s widows were treated right. After negligence on the part of Transocean and BP triggered the Deepwater Horizon disaster, we stood up for the rig’s survivors to make sure the companies did right by them in the end.

Our name is known in maritime law because we’ve handled some of the most complex cases in recent history. Call us today for a free consultation at (888) 346-5024.

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