Jones Act Info Center – Should I give a recorded statement after a maritime injury?
Being a maritime worker is one of the most dangerous occupations you can have. Whether you work on an ocean-going vessel or inland waters, you face more hazards on a daily basis than in most other fields. If you become injured while at work, you are your sole advocate in ensuring that your rights are enforced. While your employer may pay lip service to get you healed and back to work, be assured, their interests lie in reducing their liability and getting you back on the job as soon as possible, often before your body is ready.
After a maritime injury occurs, employers will take some steps to keep themselves out of hot water. One of these steps is informing their insurance companies of the injury. The first thing the insurance company will want to do is get a recorded statement from you. They will couch the action in terms of making sure you get the best care and getting compensation quickly. Unfortunately, their sole purpose is to limit their liability. They will use anything you tell them against you. Insurance adjusters are trained to elicit statements from you that will make you look bad, and your employer looks good. For these reasons, it is best not to give a statement until you have a chance to talk with an attorney experienced in Jones Act cases.
Some employers may threaten you to get such a statement by telling you that you will not be eligible for benefits unless you give a recorded statement. This is not true. Under the Jones Act, you have the right to receive maintenance and cure benefits when you are injured on the job, regardless of who is ultimately at fault. There is no requirement under the law that you must give this type of statement.
In line with your employer’s goal of limiting their liability, they may also tell you that you have to see a company doctor in order to have benefits. This is also untrue. You have the right to see the health care provider of your choosing. Just any statement that is recorded, anything you say to a company doctor will be recorded in your medical notes and used against you.
Always assume that anyone working for your employer is there to serve the employer, not you. Do not see a company doctor without first seeing your doctor and talking with an attorney.
Jones Act Benefits
As a qualified seaman under the Act, you are entitled to multiple benefits when you are hurt on the job. As mentioned above, you are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. These benefits pay for reasonable living and medical expenses while you are healing.
If you can show that your injury was the result of negligence or unseaworthiness, you can file a lawsuit against your employer and may be able to obtain compensation for things like:
- loss of past and future wages
- past and future medical bills
- mental anguish
- pain and suffering
- loss of enjoyment of life
- dismemberment or disfigurement
If you sustain an injury while serving as a maritime employee, you have rights. Do not let your employer bully you into giving a recorded statement or seeing a company doctor. Talk with an experienced Jones Act attorney to ensure your rights are enforced.