Pre-Existing Conditions

Two dock workers discussing loading of cargo ship

Under the terms of the Jones Act, pre-existing medical conditions are any condition, such as arthritis, illness, or injury, that preexisted your injury. Working onboard a vessel at sea can lead to these conditions being aggravated or worsened due to further illness, accident, or injury. If these pre-existing conditions become debilitating due to a maritime injury, you may still be able to recover damages under the Jones Act.

Under maritime injury law, special rules apply to the evaluation and diagnosis of pre-existing conditions. Acts of negligence on behalf of the boat’s owner, the crew, or the company can frequently result in past injuries getting aggravated to the point of not being able to work. In many cases, the shipowner may try to blame these injuries on pre-existing conditions rather than accept responsibility for the conditions that led to the injury. If this happens, you need a tough and experienced
maritime injury lawyer on your side like O’Bryan Law.


Pre-Existing Conditions FAQs

What can I do if I have a pre-existing condition?

A crucial part of any maritime case is being clear and upfront about your pre-existing conditions. Honesty is the best policy when talking to your employer about medical conditions, especially when it comes to your livelihood, and being able to prove you had already made clear your pre-existing conditions will help you in the event they are worsened during your employment.

What are considered pre-existing conditions?

Pre-existing conditions can take many forms, from underlying illnesses to previous injuries before starting employment. A few common forms include:

  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Epilepsy
  • Paraplegia
  • Heart disease
  • Depression and other mental health disorders

How does the Jones Act affect my pre-existing conditions?

As part of how the Jones Act works to protect maritime workers from exploitation, the Jones Act allows for pre-existing conditions in maritime workers. As long as your condition was clearly and directly addressed upfront during the hiring process, your employer is not able to use that as a reason to deny your claim for compensation after an injury suffered while in their employ. The Jones Act may also be able to help with underlying conditions such as arthritis or cancer that may have existed prior to your employment without you being aware of them, under certain circumstances.

What should I do if I am injured with a pre-existing condition?

If harmful ship conditions or laborious work aggravated your revisiting medical condition, the Jones Act is on your side – and when you need a Jones Act attorney, you need the experienced staff of O’Bryan Law. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and get the justice you deserve. We fight for our clients, and we’ll fight for you on land or at sea.