If you were injured working offshore, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Maritime laws, including the Jones Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the law of unseaworthiness, provide offshore workers with important legal rights – including the right to collect compensation when they are unable to work due to job-related injuries.
But, to protect your rights after an offshore accident, there are some steps you need to take as soon as possible. Equally important, there are some critical mistakes you need to try to avoid. Here are five mistakes injured offshore workers should avoid in order to preserve their right to a maximum financial recovery:
1. Only Seeking a Diagnosis from the Ship Doctor
If you suffered serious traumatic injuries offshore, you may have no choice but to seek treatment from your ship’s doctor. However, even if you receive a diagnosis and treatment offshore, it is still important that you seek a second opinion when you get back to land. Since your ship’s doctor likely works for your employer or the vessel owner, he or she may be incentivized to provide only the minimum treatment necessary in order to get you back to work as soon as possible. You are entitled to the treatment you need to make a full recovery, and it is critical that you seek independent medical advice.
2. Returning to Work Too Soon
While you may feel compelled to return to work before you are fully recovered so that you can keep up with your family’s monthly expenses, the best thing you can do for your family is to follow your treatment plan and not go back to work until your doctor approves. If you return to work too soon, you could worsen your injuries, and you may give the insurance companies a reason to limit your compensation.
3. Only Seeking Maintenance and Cure Under the Jones Act
While maintenance and cure benefits are often the easiest form of compensation to recover after an offshore accident, these benefits are fairly minimal, and they do not come close to fully compensating injured workers for their losses. There are various ways that injured offshore workers can seek full compensation for their losses, and an experienced maritime lawyer will be able to help you pursue all available sources of financial recovery.
4. Talking about the Accident in Person or Online
If you talk about the accident with your neighbors and coworkers, or if you post about the accident online, (i) there is a risk that you will say something you shouldn’t, and (ii) there is a risk that your statements will be misconstrued. To avoid the potential for your own words and photos to be used against you, it is best to only discuss the accident with your attorney.
5. Assuming You are Responsible for What Happened
Finally, it is important that you not assume you are responsible for your own injuries. Even if you think you made a mistake, there are still numerous other factors that could be fully or partially to blame. From malfunctioning equipment to safety violations and rough seas, there is a lot that can go wrong offshore. Additionally, under the Jones Act and other maritime laws, even if you were partially at fault, you may still be entitled to financial compensation.
Speak with a Houston Maritime Lawyer in Confidence
For more information about protecting your right to compensation after an offshore accident, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Morrow & Sheppard LLP. To speak with one of our experienced maritime lawyers in confidence, please call (800) 489-2216 or contact us online today.