Jones Act Injuries

When an injury occurs on a barge, oil rig, tugboat, towboat or other vessel, it is sometimes difficult to know what needs to be done to not only treat the injury, but gather the appropriate evidence regarding the incident. If you are a seaman you are protected under federal law by the Jones Act. However, the actions you take after an injury can make the difference of whether you win or lose your Jones Act lawsuit. The statute of limitations for a Jones Act claim is generally three years from the date of the accident, but keep in mind that the process of filing a claim is often time consuming. Consider taking action as soon as possible following an injury.

Below is a list of things to do after a Jones Act injury:

  • Seek medical attention. Before you do anything else, you need to get medical treatment for your maritime injury. If your vessel has a medical doctor onboard, then you may want to see that professional. As an injured seaman, you do have the right to reasonable medical care and you can get medical treatment from someone not associated with your employer.
  • Report the injury to your supervisor. You can request that an accident report be completed in writing, so that there is a record of the event. Most likely you will be asked to sign the report, but review it carefully before you sign to make sure everything is correct.
  • Write the contact information of the witnesses. If there were people who witnessed your maritime accident, you are going to want their testimonies. Try to get their phone numbers, home addresses and email addresses.
  • Take photographs. You should take pictures of your injuries and also the equipment or defective condition that caused the accident.
  • Do not sign a waiver or release of liability document. If your employer asks you to sign something, read it carefully to make sure it does not release the employer from any liability or waive your rights. Some legal documents are hard to understand – if you don’t know what it says, don’t sign it.
  • Do not give a recorded statement. An insurance adjuster may ask you questions and to avoid misrepresenting yourself, decline giving a recorded statement.
  • Talk to an experienced Jones Act attorney. As an injured seaman, you have legal rights, but maritime law can be complex. That is why you need to talk with a maritime attorney who can review your case and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.

The Willis Law Firm has been representing injured seaman for over 25 years.