What you need to do when you have an injury—either you or your family—is learn all your options, because I guarantee you that once an injury occurs the defendants are already mobilized because they have a system for this. While it might be your first time, they will have lawyers and investigators aboard the vessel trying to shape the story with witness interviews as quickly as they can. You need to at least consult a lawyer to understand your options.
You need a lawyer who understands the law and how to protect your rights. Typically, once someone gets hurt, the company's risk management department springs into action. They will start trying to get statements or make the evidence seem like an accident happened one way when in reality it may have happened a different way.
If you have a case manager already assigned to you or you have a consultant that is calling wanting to talk to you about statements and see a company doctor, they have already started the process. What I mean by that is that they have already started the litigation process. Case managers, outside consultants, investigators, they are all part of what is called risk management and their goal is to try to ensure that the story is shaped in a way that the company doesn't have any liability and that they have to pay as little as possible.
If that process has already started you need to be very careful. You should assume that whatever you say is getting recorded; you should assume that they are working on behalf of the company, not on behalf of your best interests. At that point in time, you really need to talk to somebody that specializes in maritime law. I would advise you to speak confidentially and without obligation to one of our attorneys because they can tell you, "Hey these are the things you need to be careful about, these are the things to watch for." They can tell you what you need to do to protect yourself because I assure you that the company is doing everything they can to protect themselves.
Arnold & Itkin represented nearly a third of the crewmembers injured in the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
Because maritime law is so complex and so complicated, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who has an in-depth understanding of how it works and who has proven themselves in similar cases before.