What should I do if I am hurt?

The first thing you must do is report your injury. If you have to fill out an accident report, explain on the accident report how it is that you got hurt and what part of your body is hurting. It is very important to make note of the reason the accident happened if it involves the fault of your employer, other person, or company. For example, if something breaks and causes you to get hurt – note it on the accident report. If you slip and fall on a foreign substance on a deck or floor – note it on the incident report. If you did not get enough help for a job that you were ordered to do – note it on the incident report. Also, many employers are in a rush to have their employees give a recorded or sworn statement before the employee has an opportunity to talk to an attorney or even reflect on how it is that he got hurt. On many occasions, an adjuster will come to talk to you while you are in the hospital emergency room or while an injured person is on strong pain medication. Do everything in your power to resist giving that statement before you have talked to an attorney. If you must give a statement, however, make sure that when you are asked if anything caused your injury, you give accurate and detailed information as to the negligence or fault on the company that you wish to bring a claim against.

Many companies ask their employees to sign what is know as a “waiver” of their right to sue under the Jones Act or the general maritime law. You do not have to sign this. If you do sign this, you will be forced to arbitrate your case and not have a judge or jury decide your case. This is both unfair and costly to the injured party. The issue as to whether this is an appropriate action by the employer is the subject of many lawsuits. Often the employer will tell you that they will not pay your medical bills or support you if you do not sign these “waivers,” but the law requires your employer to take care of you whether or not you sign the waiver or not.

Finally, it is important that you contact an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced maritime lawyer can assist you in receiving the proper compensation for your injury and assist in finding appropriate doctors to treat your injury. An experienced maritime lawyer can hit the ground running to investigate your case before the witnesses to your injury are scattered across the country and possibly the world. The longer a case goes uninvestigated by the injured party, the less information will be available to assist that employee. Remember, the employer has lawyers and investigators that will immediately begin working to prepare a defense. If you are not represented, there is no one representing your interest.