Should I sign a release for my maritime injuries?

After an accident on a barge, rig or other vessel, you may be bombarded with paperwork from your employer’s insurance company. As soon as you report an offshore injury, an investigation will begin. Your employer or the insurance company will talk with witnesses, look at the accident scene and request that you make a recorded statement. They are trying to minimize responsibility which can lower your settlement, or even claim that you were to blame which makes them less liable.

Do not give the insurance company a recorded statement, which is discussed further in our article, Should I give a recorded statement after an offshore injury. You may also be asked to sign a maritime release or settlement agreement for your offshore injuries. It is important that you talk with an independent maritime lawyer before signing any paperwork.

If your injury is serious, you will be forced to face medical expenses and lost wages. In some cases, maritime employees are not able to return to work in the same capacity, which can lead to an economic hardship. Your employer and the insurance company know that a serious or permanent injury can cost them a lot and therefore, they will encourage you to sign a release that will prevent you from asking for more money in the future. A release will close your maritime injury claim for good and could even place a freeze on the insurance company’s liability for your future medical expenses.

There have also been some reports of maritime employers requiring or strongly persuading injured employees to sign paperwork before getting medical benefits or maintenance. However, such paperwork does not have to be signed under the Jones Act, which is a law that protects injured seamen. Do not sign paperwork from your employer as there can be disclosures and clauses hidden that could prevent you from filing a Jones Act lawsuit in court.

Maritime injury cases are too complex to handle yourself. A maritime lawyer can make sure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. When you work with a maritime attorney, you can feel comfortable knowing that you will not be taken advantage of by your employer or the insurance company. Contact our law firm for a free and confidential consultation regarding your case. We will work hard to ensure that you are treated fairly.