5 Mistakes to Avoid After a Maritime Injury
Maritime work is inherently dangerous. The unpredictable nature of the open sea presents challenges such as severe weather conditions, strong currents, and large waves, which can lead to accidents, injuries, or even fatalities. The physically demanding nature of the work, including heavy lifting, operating complex machinery, and navigating slippery surfaces, increases the risk of injuries. The remote locations of many maritime jobs also pose challenges in accessing immediate medical care in case of an emergency. Inadequate safety measures, lack of proper training, and insufficient maintenance of equipment and vessels can further exacerbate the dangers faced by maritime workers.
When accidents occur, it can be difficult to know what to do—and what not to do.
Here, we have compiled a few tips on mistakes to avoid after a maritime accident. Reviewing these may be able to help ensure you do not make decisions with the best of intentions that ultimately end up having a negative impact on your claim or your recovery.
Mistake #1: Waiting Too Long to File a Claim
One of the most common mistakes injured workers make is waiting too long to file a claim. Maritime law has strict deadlines for filing injury claims, known as the statute of limitations. The time limits vary depending on the type of claim being filed. For example, the Jones Act allows injured seamen three years from the date of the injury to file a claim. The Death on the High Seas Act (DOSHA) also has a three-year statute of limitations.
For claims filed under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), there is a one-year time limit in which a worker must file a claim. An injured worker must also report their injury to their employer, in writing, within 30 days of the incident.
Failing to file within the prescribed timeframe can result in your claim being dismissed.
Mistake #2: Failing to Seek Medical Attention
Another common mistake is failing to seek immediate medical attention after an injury. Not only is this important for your health, but it also serves as crucial evidence for your claim. Delaying medical care can give the impression that your injury is not severe or that it was not caused by your maritime job.
Always prioritize your health and see a doctor as soon as possible following your injury. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, but by seeking medical attention, you can get professional insight into your condition and what steps you need to take to protect your health.
When you seek treatment, keep a detailed record and all applicable paperwork.
Mistake #3: Not Documenting the Accident
Thorough documentation of the accident is essential to build a strong case. This includes taking photographs, collecting witness statements, and keeping records of all communications with your employer or insurance company. You can even take notes of important details that you remember about the incident while they are still fresh in your mind, as well as a notebook that details your physical and mental state in the days, weeks, and months after the accident. All of this information can prove invaluable in supporting your claim.
Failing to document the incident can make it difficult to prove your case, as memories fade and evidence becomes harder to find over time.
Mistake #4: Handling the Claim on Your Own
Navigating the complexities of maritime law can be challenging for someone without legal experience. Attempting to handle your claim on your own may lead to mistakes that can jeopardize your case. Seamen and offshore workers also often experience the shocking reality that their employers, often who they’ve been with for years or decades, are unhelpful or outright callous when dealing with an accident or injury. Maritime workers often experience pressure to return to work before they’re ready, to see the “company doctor” even when they are unhappy with their care, and to accept far less than what they need to rebuild their lives.
Involving an experienced maritime attorney can make all the difference in ensuring that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Mistake #5: Settling for Less Than You Deserve
Insurance companies and maritime employers are notorious for attempting to settle claims quickly and for less than they are worth. While it can be tempting to accept a quick settlement, this may not be in your best interest. Even what appears to be a fair offer could be much less than what it will actually take to cover all of your medical bills, lost earnings, and ongoing expenses related to your injury. The full impact of a maritime injury is often felt for years or even for the rest of a worker’s life; the recovery of fair compensation can make all the difference for the worker and their family.
An attorney can help you understand your rights and responsibilities and work to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
How Arnold & Itkin Can Help
If you or a loved one has suffered a maritime injury, our team at Arnold & Itkin can help. We have a proven track record of successfully representing injured seamen and offshore workers in cases across the country. We understand the intricacies of maritime law and can guide you through the entire process, avoiding these common mistakes.
Don't hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation to discuss your case. Let our experienced maritime injury attorneys help you navigate your claim and pursue the outcome you deserve.