Jones Act Checklist
Most crew members that are injured on ships or vessels don't know their legal rights. If you are an injured Jones Act Seaman, you need to take immediate steps in order to protect you and your family's future. You need to take steps to prevent losing your Jones Act lawsuit.
Here is a checklist for injured Jones Act Seaman to follow to win their Jones Act case:
1. Your Health and Safety Must Be Your First Concern
After you are injured aboard a vessel or in the service of the vessel your first concern must be your health, safety and medical treatment. Nothing is more important than getting back on your feet. So, no matter what, seek out appropriate medical attention first.
2. Immediately Report Your Jones Act Injury
Always report your injury. Do not wait. If you are injured at 4:40 a.m., report your injury at 4:40 a.m. Don't wait until the next day to report your injury.
3. A Photo of the Accident Can Be Priceless
A few photos taken of the incident site as soon after the incident as possible can be priceless. If you can't take them, ask a fellow crew member to take a few photos for you. Try and get a few different angles and points of view. A photo after the incident will head off a lot of "defenses" later. "Defenses" is a code word for the lies that the insurance company lawyer will tell the jury about what "really" caused your injury.
4. A Witness Really Can Help Your Jones Act Case
Frequently you will be transported off the vessel after an injury. If at all possible
try to get the names and contact information of all of the witnesses to the accident and witnesses to how the scene looked right after it happened before being transported off the vessel.
5. Say No to Accident Reports or Witness Statements
Do not fill out any accident reports or give any witness statements. You have no legal obligation to do so. Simply report your injury. Remember this: anything you say or write will be used against you in a court of law. You can and should avoid this trap by refusing to give any type of written or recorded statement.
6. Do Not Admit Guilt
Many insurance adjusters will try and speak to you right after an accident in an attempt to get you to admit that the accident was your fault. Don't fall for this trick. You just got injured - - there is no requirement to speak to the insurance adjuster.
7. Don't Sign Anything
Never, ever, ever sign any documents until you speak to a lawyer. This includes medical authorizations, accident reports, etc. You never have to sign documents in order to receive maintenance and cure.
There is no requirement that you fill out any accident reports or sign any documents in order to obtain maintenance and cure or other damages. No matter what anyone tells you or threatens you with - don't sign anything.
8. Choose Your Own Doctor for a Jones Act Injury
Under the law you get to choose your own doctor. Do not treat with the company doctor. When you are injured in the service of the vessel, or during a voyage, your Jones Act employer has an obligation to provide you with medical treatment until you reach maximum medical improvement. This is called "cure." It is very important that you chose a treating physician that is not a "company doctor."
Any lawyer that says they are going to send you to "their doctor" is trouble. Juries smell these shenanigans a mile away. A quick way to ruin your case is to get mixed up with a doctor that "works with" your lawyer. You need a doctor that is going to put your medical interests first and "call it the way they see it." Don't let a bad apple lawyer sink your case before you even start.
The choice of physician is yours. At the end of the day, nothing is more important than you recovering as fast as possible.
9. Do the Right Thing
Always do the right thing. Never lie or fudge about anything. You must be honest. If you are caught in a lie, you will usually lose your case.