Why Do I Need to Hire a Maritime Injury Lawyer?
Unlike state workers' compensation claims or even claims pursued under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, there is no administrative body that oversees your Jones Act claim. Instead, claims covered by the Jones Act must be filed in state or federal court. Although some claims may be settled in pre-litigation negotiations, the only way to preserve your right to pursue a claim is to file a lawsuit.
If you are not ready to consider litigation, you should still consult with an experienced maritime injury attorney to discuss your rights and the merits of your maritime injury claim. In many instances, your company may ask you to sign an agreement or release in exchange for payment of unearned wages, maintenance or medical benefits. It is imperative that you have any documents you are given reviewed by a competent maritime attorney before signing them so that you do not waive any of your rights of recovery.
Perhaps the most important reason that you need an attorney is the fact that your employer and his insurance company have teams of lawyers representing them and consulting them throughout this process. The goal of their attorneys is to dispose of your claim as cheaply as possible. The only way to level the playing field with your employer or the insurance company is to have an experienced attorney representing your interests. As an injured employee, you are new to the process, whereas your employer, his insurer and their attorneys deal with these cases on a regular basis. It is critical to the outcome of your claim that you have a team who regularly handles Jones Act claims.
Jones Act Claims
Because Jones Act claims are pursued through the litigation process, it is essential to consult with and select an experienced maritime attorney with a proven record of success. When choosing a maritime injury law firm or a specific attorney, you should inquire about the number of cases they have tried. Do not allow an attorney to dance around your questions; you need to select an attorney who is prepared to give honest, direct answers to all of your inquiries. Maritime law can be complex. Although these laws are designed to protect the rights and livelihood of maritime workers who become injured or ill on the job, they can be difficult to navigate and full of what seem to be roadblocks. This is why it's crucial to seek legal advice and representation from an attorney or law firm that has a deep background in this highly specialized area of the law.
A lawyer who is experienced in maritime law can review the facts of your case and determine your best legal options. They will likely do this by examining your worker status at the time of injury, the seaworthiness of the vessel you were working on, the timeframe for bringing a claim, and all other factors that may have contributed to your injury.
Another reason you may benefit from hiring a maritime injury lawyer is because they know how to deal with offshore companies. On your own, you may feel like you have no hope. After all, you're just one person and your company is likely an established corporation who knows how to handle injury cases so that they come out on top. There is no reason why you can't have aggressive representation on your side as well.
You may feel as if any attorney will do, but if you are an offshore worker, you and your company are bound to a very specific set of laws called maritime law or admiralty law. You need a lawyer who is well versed in this very specific and specialized area of the law if you want to get the full amount of compensation that you are entitled to.