A seafarer’s job is anything but easy—certain hazards can quickly turn into a maritime accident. Working aboard ships exposes you to dangers at sea. Many dock and offshore tasks are physically taxing. Moreover, some roles require long hours of toil. These jobs pose risks that can lead to injuries and even fatalities.
On the bright side, there are laws covering your rights as a worker at sea. The Jones Act gives you protection should you suffer from an injury while on the job. Also, it’s a must to coordinate with a maritime lawyer. They can take care of your legal claims and the compensation you deserve.
What is a maritime accident?
Maritime accidents or injuries are unforeseen events linked to ship navigation, operation, or handling. It can also include incidents that involve injury or casualty. These instances can be related to a ship’s equipment, construction, or facilities. Accidents at sea are unwanted circumstances that can befall different vessels, from boats to oil rigs to cruise ships.
Too often, injuries sustained onboard result from negligence. The owner, crew, or captain can have lapses that affect their own or someone else’s safety. Bad weather can also cause such incidents. For instance, swells or storms can lead to slippery surfaces. It puts you and others in danger of tripping or falling.
Regardless of whether you get hurt as a worker or passenger, you have rights that the compensating party should respect.
Steps to follow in case of a maritime accident
In general, maritime jobs are high-risk and extremely dangerous. In 2017, authorities report 11,000 occupational injuries related to marine transportation. Today, it remains a top concern for workers and passengers at sea.
If you meet with a maritime-related accident, there’s help available. This guide teaches you how to properly handle the situation. You can follow these steps to ensure that the maritime injury lawyer can win your case without hassle.
Get medical attention
Your health and wellbeing should always come first in any incident. If you sustain wounds injuries, the first thing to do is seek medical help. For instance, you should get first aid immediately. You can then get admitted to a hospital as soon as transportation is accessible.
The U.S. Coast Guard can assist with emergencies such as a victim needing urgent care. Dialing 911 is another option if the victim is at the pier or docks.
Ideally, you should consult with your own doctor. They oversee your healthcare and will know what medical action plan suits you. You should tell them in detail about the incident as well as your injuries. Every information you give plus the doctor’s assessment will reflect on your medical record. This document is vital in the later steps.
Report the maritime accident
Next, you need to notify your employer regarding the incident. According to maritime laws, a seafarer should report within seven days of the occurrence. However, it’s better to report the injury right away. Doing so can help you when filing insurance claims.
If you are able, you should be the one to inform your employer. A co-worker may relay the report on your behalf, but it’s more ideal if you do it yourself. Again, you should not delay this step and contact the boss directly. You can also send a copy of your medical records for their reference.
Gather more information
Your employer and insurance provider will likely ask for more information about the incident. You need to prepare by securing evidence that backs your claims. For example, you or your co-workers can take some photos of the scene. If there are witnesses, you need to ask for their contact information.
Other information you should have on hand includes the specific equipment (if any) that caused the accident. Additionally, you must keep copies of your invoices, bills, and other expenses due to the injury. You might also get asked to submit photos of your maritime injuries. As said, medical records during the time you had your injuries attended are equally important.
A successful lawsuit for a maritime accident relies on proof that the event resulted in damages. You should also need to establish that the employer neglected your safety.
Do not provide recorded statements
In most cases, the insurance company or employer asks for a signed statement from the victim. They may also call you in to sign some documents. However, it’s best for you not to do these actions until you speak with a lawyer. They can use your statement against you, preventing you from claiming the right compensation.
Anytime you get involved in an accident, you should only discuss it with your lawyer. You must refrain from talking to other people about it. Also, you need to stop yourself from posting the details on social media.
Even your employer may use your statements to avoid liability. Usually, anything you do or say after an incident can work against your favor once a trial happens. In this case, it’s in your best interest to avoid signing insurance documents without legal consultation. Try not to agree to a settlement offer, either.
Talk to your lawyer
An attorney for maritime accident cases can help you get your legal matters in order. These professionals can assist you with your claim. It’s crucial, especially for workers at sea who meet with a grave injury that affects their living.
A maritime lawyer has excellent knowledge of the laws governing injuries at sea. You can benefit from their specific experience involving similar cases. If your employer tries to deny responsibility, a competent lawyer can legally sanction them to pay if proven liable. You can get the maximum protection you deserve when you partner with an O’Bryan Law attorney.
What are possible claims for maritime injuries?
Your lawyer can help you file claims for compensation under various federal laws. These rulings defend the rights of a seafarer who sustains vessel injury during work. Here are some of these laws you should know:
- The Jones Act. ‘Seamen’ who get into an accident onboard can seek no-fault benefits. These claims cover maintenance and cure for maritime injuries. In addition, the victim can file a separate claim based on negligence. It entitles them to full compensation for the mishap.
- The Longshore Act. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act protects employees not covered by the benefits of the Jones Act. Aside from no-fault and injury claims, the victim can also demand compensation from third parties involved.
- The Law of Unseaworthiness. This maritime law allows individuals to file a claim against owners of ‘unseaworthy’ vessels. Unlike the other two acts, this regulation does not rely on proof of negligence.
Passengers getting injured on a vessel
Maritime laws apply when any accident happens in any ‘navigable waters’ area designated by the federal government. If a passenger gets injured on a boat, it falls under the personal injury law of the specific state.
To file a claim, the process is mostly the same as any maritime incident claim. It includes getting treatment and securing medical records. The passenger should gather information and evidence related to the accident. Additionally, contacting a lawyer with expertise in maritime claims is a must.
How we can help
The lawyers at O’Bryan Law are adept at handling maritime accident claims. We can assist you in exercising your rights as an injured victim. Our job is to sort information and build a favorable case that entitles you to compensation. You can get a consultation with our lawyers as soon as you call today!