What is a Jones Act Lawsuit?
Jones Act lawsuits are more complicated than lawsuits for injuries that happen on land. Workers on board ships, barges, tankers, tugs, dredges, jack-up rigs, semi-submersible rigs, and other vessels are not covered by regular worker’s compensation laws like land-based workers. Because these jobs are highly specialized and because mariners spend most of their time at sea, the Jones Act allows mariners and their loved ones to sue their employers if they are hurt or killed on the job. If a mariner has been injured or killed because of negligence or unseaworthiness, they may bring a Jones Act lawsuit against their employer for their past and future lost wages, medical costs, pain and suffering, and future medical care. If this applies to you, know that most injury attorneys do not have the experience or track record to win a Jones Act lawsuit. Most people, including lawyers, who have not been through this process have no idea what an attorney needs to do to properly develop and win a Jones Act claim. Here is a behind-the-scenes look at what we do when we handle a Jones Act claim:
Make sure you are getting proper medical treatment.
If you are being seen by company doctors, then you may not be getting all of the medical treatment you need, or the proper treatment. Under the Jones Act, you are entitled to see any doctor of your choosing, and you don’t have to see company doctors if you don’t want to. Even if you are not seeing company doctors, you may want to simply get a second opinion from a new doctor. We can help you see qualified independent doctors.
Make sure you are receiving the proper amount of “maintenance & cure” from your company.
Under the Jones Act, your employer must immediately provide you with “maintenance & cure.” Maintenance and cure is the legal term for your company paying you a daily living wage (maintenance) and paying for your medical treatment until you have recovered or reached maximum medical improvement (cure). These payments must begin the very day you are injured. Many times, maritime companies will cheat their employees and not pay them the proper amount. Often, once we get involved in our client’s Jones Act claim, the company will promptly begin paying you the proper amount of this benefit. We have several ways in which we seek to make your company pay you a higher amount.
Deal with the maritime claims adjuster for you.
Often, maritime employers have offshore claims adjusters who handle injury claims for them. The claims adjuster probably wants a lot of information from you, but doesn’t want to give you anything. You don’t have to give them most of the things they want from you. In fact, after hiring us to handle your claim, you don’t ever need to interact with these people again if you don’t want to.
Handle all aspects of your Jones Act lawsuit so you can focus on getting better.
- File your lawsuit in the state and county where it will bring the most value to you, based on the venue rules in the Jones Act.
- Obtain answers to questions and documents from your company concerning your offshore accident and injuries.
- Take testimony, in the form of depositions, from company witnesses. In Jones Act cases, sometimes we have to take up to 10 or 15 witness depositions.
- File legal briefs and attend court hearings on the Jones Act and other maritime law issues the typically come up in these types of maritime injury lawsuits.
- Obtain copies of all your medical and billing records, in order to prove up your injuries and show the medical treatment you have received.
- Order your work records to show how much money you have earned in prior years, to support your claim for lost past wages and for lost future earning capacity.
- Hire experts, many times multiple experts, to support your claim for liability on your company, and to support your damage claims based on your job-related injuries.
- Allow you to apply for financial assistance, if necessary.
- Set up a mediation of your case with a mediator who specializes in Jones Act cases, where we will negotiate your case against your company. You will be present at this proceeding, and nothing will be finalized without your knowledge and approval. In order to make your decision, you will have access to prior case results for our clients.
- Try your case in court to a jury if your company does not want to pay enough in settlement. Keep in mind, about 90% of all cases settle out of court.
- Pay up-front all expenses and medical bills in order to properly develop your case and set it up for maximum value. You will pay nothing out of pocket while your case is ongoing.
- Spend as much time as needed in order to get you the best result on your Jones Act lawsuit. You will not be charged anything at all, no fees and no expenses, unless and until we win your case for you.
Time is not on your side. Don’t wait to consult with an experienced Jones Act attorney.
The second you are injured or your loved one is killed, you become a liability to your company. Maritime companies don’t care about loyalty and hard work when your Jones Act claim threatens their profit margin. Maritime companies start minimizing the value of your case as soon as the accident is reported. Some companies will even pressure workers to not file the incident report. Many of our clients have been met at the docks by a maritime claims adjuster who will drive them to the company doctor. You owe it to yourself to consult with an experienced Jones Act attorney as soon as possible. This way, you can review your case with an expert in maritime law, go over your legal rights, and discuss what your next steps should be. To discuss your case with our Board Certified attorneys, call us at 877-724-7800 or fill out a contact form.