MARITIME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: PART 3
Can I get compensation if nobody was at fault for my maritime accident?
You should never assume or admit that an accident was your own fault or was no-fault. Often, those injured in an accident are unaware of details that may have made the vessel unseaworthy, or of the actions of others that may have created a hazard in the work space.
It is vital that you understand all of your rights under maritime law. Even if the injury truly was your own fault, if you are a seaman as defined under the Jones Act, you can still receive compensation in the form of maintenance and cure. Contact a maritime lawyer immediately after any injury to make sure your rights are protected and you get the compensation you deserve.
Can I get maintenance and cure benefits while I’m suing my employer for negligence or unseaworthiness?
Yes, most seamen filing Jones Act negligence and/or seaworthiness complaints also receive maintenance and cure. If maintenance and cure is not being properly paid, you can ask the court to find that you are entitled to such, and the court may also require the employer to pay the seaman’s attorneys’ fees for that part of the complaint.
Can’t I just make a workers’ compensation claim?
Although both Jones Act claims and workers’ compensation claims are concerned with injuries incurred on the job, a Jones Act maritime injury case is NOT the same thing as workers’ compensation. Often, workers’ compensation cases end up with small cash settlements, but settlements under the Jones Act are often much greater if there is any proof of negligence or unseaworthiness. Before making any claims under workers’ compensation law, discuss your case with an experienced maritime attorney, because it is possible to lose rights if you make a claim under the wrong law.
How long will my case take?
Of course, every case is unique. The length of time between hiring an attorney and receiving compensation varies depending on the complexity of the necessary investigation needed to gather all the facts of the case, as well as the willingness of the defendant to settle out of court. Before approaching a defendant about an out of court settlement, a maritime lawyer generally spends one to two months gathering information and evidence. If the defendant agrees to a settlement, you could begin receiving compensation relatively soon after. If your case is not settled out of court, then it will be filed in State or Federal Court, and it can be a year or more before the trial date.
Can I lose my job or be discriminated against because I filed a legal claim?
No, it is not legal for employers to harass you or discriminate against you simply because you hired an attorney to protect your rights and receive the compensation you deserve for on-the-job injuries.
How – and how much – will my lawyers be paid?
We take maritime injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that if we achieve a settlement for you or win your case in court, you will pay your attorney a percentage of the financial compensation settled upon or awarded to you. Lawyers also pay the costs of litigation up-front, and are then reimbursed by the client for such expenses as expert witness fees, filing fees, photocopies, and so on, unless there is no recovery. In that case, the client pays no fees or costs to the attorney.
When is the best time to contact an attorney?
The sooner you contact a maritime lawyer to discuss your case, the better off you will be. Maritime injury cases generally have a statute of limitations of three years from the date of the injury, but in some situations it can be as little as one year. If you wait to hire an attorney and file a claim, you may lose the right to compensation forever. It is best to contact a maritime lawyer as soon as possible to while facts are clear in your mind, witnesses are available, and evidence is fresh.
If you are ready to take the first step and discuss your case with a maritime attorney, contact us today for a free consultation.