The Jones Act: How Do I File a Claim?
In 1920, legislation known as the Jones Act was signed into law. A major part of the legislation stipulated a protection for seamen that allowed them to hold employers liable for their injuries if they resulted from negligence. This part of the Jones Act is very much an active part of today’s shipping industry, requiring employers to provide reasonably safe environments for their workers.
You can hold an employer accountable for your injuries if:
- You were injured while working as a vessel crew member;
- Your employer is discovered to have been acting negligently; and
- Your employer’s negligence was a direct cause of your injury.
If you want help filing a claim from experienced Jones Act attorneys, contact Arnold & Itkin today.
Immediately After the Injury
The steps to building a strong case begin immediately after an injury. As soon as you realize you are hurt, notify your supervisor or captain. Even if you are unsure about the severity of your injury, having the injury on record as soon as possible begins your claim on the strongest possible start.
Your employer will likely reach out to you to file an accident report. Being as factual as possible will benefit you in the long run. Honestly reporting the fault of the company might be a risk to your future employment, so if you would like to not report who was at fault, don’t. However, consider your words carefully, as the accident report will later serve as evidence in your Jones Act claim.
However, if your employer’s insurance asks that you record or write a statement about the accident, do not do so. You are not required by law to release a statement to them, and they may use your testimony against you later in the case. Do what you can to avoid giving any statement until you can get off the ship and start medical treatment with your own doctor.
Do Not Settle (Yet)
Seek medical attention. As you begin to build a consistent record of treatment, your injury claim will build natural credibility. Your injury deserves careful treatment, so make sure you get it! Skipping doctors’ appointments will only hurt your claim and your body in the long run.
If your employer’s insurance seeks to settle with you, do not accept settlement too soon. Until you are positive about the long-term effects of your injury and your career in the maritime industry, you will not know if a settlement is actually fair or not. The best thing to do at this point is hire a lawyer. If you have been injured, your employer should already be providing you with maintenance and cure.
If your maintenance and cure is not being provided (or is close to reaching its limits), then consider the value of your claim. If it exceeds the settlement being offered to you, contact a Jones Act attorney, who can present your claim before a jury with skill and clarity. If you are unsure about the value of your claim, Arnold & Itkin offers free case evaluations in order to clarify your situation and help you make the best decision for you.
Contact our firm to schedule your free case evaluation today—we have the skill and history of results to maximize your chances for compensation.