Injured? A Maritime Injury Lawyer Explains What You Should Do
Spending time on the sea can be both relaxing and lucrative. However, when things go bad on a cruise ship, fishing vessel or other commercial watercraft, serious injuries and even death may result. Whether you are a passenger or crew member on an ocean-going vessel, you have certain rights under the law when you are injured. If you are injured at sea, there are a number of things you need to do right away to protect yourself and your rights.
Protecting Maritime Employees
Maritime employees working on cruise ships, tug boats, fishing vessels, drill rigs and barges are protected under maritime laws such as:
- The Jones Act
- Maintenance and Cure
- The Death on the High Seas Act
- Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act
- Other state, federal and international maritime laws and treaties
If you are working on a qualifying vessel and are injured, you have the right to receive compensation for your injuries. In order to receive the maximum amount of compensation that you are entitled to, you must be vigilant in your protection of your rights. If you are injured, be sure to protect yourself by:
- Notifying your employer and filling out an incident report (giving as few details as possible, such as date, time and people involved).
- Collecting evidence from the scene of the accident.
- Obtaining witness contact information and statements.
- Avoiding giving any written or recorded statements to your employer or insurance agent.
- Getting appropriate medical attention (from your own doctor, if at all possible).
When you are injured, you may not be in the proper frame of mind to give any statements and should avoid doing so at all costs. Your employer may try to “encourage” you to give a statement in the spirit of getting you compensation as quickly as possible. Do not fall for this ploy. You are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits without giving a statement as to what happened. Talk to an experienced maritime attorney before making any statements.
If you are at sea, it may be impossible for you to see the doctor of your choosing. Be sure to seek out your own medical doctor once you arrive back in port. Company doctors are working for your employer and are there to limit the company’s liability as much as possible. Your own doctor will have your best interests at heart, and you have a higher likelihood of receiving proper care with your own doctor.
Protecting Maritime Passengers
Passengers on cruise ships, commercial fishing vessels, and other charter vessels have legal protections under U.S. and international maritime law as well. If you become injured while aboard an ocean-going vessel, you need to act fast to protect your rights. This includes:
- Taking pictures, or having others take pictures of the scene of the accident that caused your injury.
- Collecting evidence at the scene of the accident.
- Obtaining witness statements and contact information.
- Notifying ship’s crew as soon as possible after the incident.
- Seek appropriate medical care for your injuries.
- Do not give recorded statements to the ship’s representatives.
If you are injured while vacationing out at sea, talk to an experienced maritime attorney before you give any statements to insurance companies or ship representatives. This will help ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to.