What Are Your Rights After an Accident at Sea?
After an accident occurs at sea, many mariners and their families may be left wondering what steps to take. They may be struggling with financial burdens and medical issues, trying to decide how to proceed. It is important to know that certain rights are protected by the Jones Act and other maritime law. Taking advantage of these rights may be a valuable asset to those injured at sea.
Injured Workers Have the Right to Adequate Medical Treatment
Certain maritime employers may push injured workers into seeing a certain physician after an injury, but you have the right to choose your own doctor. Selecting a doctor on your own carries several advantages, as a doctor endorsed by the company is more likely to be interested in the company's best interest than yours, and you may find yourself lacking adequate recovery time or treatment to save the company some funds. This makes selecting your own unbiased doctor an important step in ensuring that you fully recover from an incident and your medical needs are truly covered. The Jones Act states that all injured mariners are entitled to full medical benefits until recovery is complete, regardless of who is at fault in the incident. Do not let your employer bully you into returning to work before you have fully recovered.
Protect Your Interests by Knowing Your Rights
When a claim is filed for an injury at sea, your employer may request a statement regarding the incident. While you are obligated to initially report your injury to your employer right away, you have the right to deny giving a recorded statement. Relaying the details of a real event may sound like an obvious step to take, but even the smallest detail can be used against your case if things are phrased in a certain way or you may not be certain which details to give. It is important to consult a lawyer before giving any statement on an injury at sea, so ensure that you are giving a clear and accurate account of the incident.
In addition, injured workers have the right to refuse signing any paperwork proposed to them by insurance companies to provide them with a settlement or medical benefits. While recovering from an injury, workers may be visited by an insurance adjuster who offers up medical coverage and maintenance payments in exchange for signing one quick paper. You can, and probably should, refuse to sign any of these papers. They may contain a number of additional clauses, including forcing you into arbitration in the event of a dispute.
Although the details surrounding an injury at sea can be overwhelming, it is important to protect yourself by knowing your legal rights to medical treatment and other decisions. If you have any questions concerning your accident at sea, the attorneys of Arnold & Itkin can review your situation and help you understand what options are available to you. Contact our Jones Act attorneys for a free consultation.