Understanding Your Offshore Injury

Understanding Your
Offshore
Injury
Insider Tips from a Jones Act Attorney
That Could Protect You & Your Family
Timothy Young, The Young Firm

UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

Copyright © 2009, Second Edition Copyright © 2013 Timothy
Young
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of
the author.
Printed in the United States of America
ISBN-13: 978-1491209158
ISBN-10: 1491209151

TIMOTHY YOUNG
Disclaimer: This book is meant for informational purposes
only. The legal statutes mentioned in this book were current as of the publication date, however, we cannot guarantee that these statutes have remained the same since the
publication date. The information contained herein is not
intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice. You
are advised to contact a maritime attorney for counsel on
particular issues and concerns. Additionally, your use or
request of our materials does not constitute as an attorneyclient relationship between you and The Young Firm.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

Tab l e o f Co ntents
Part I: The Basics…………..10
Maritime Law………………………….10
The Jones A c t…………………………..12
Why Is the Jones Act Important?…………..13
Def initio n o f a s e ama n……..14
When Does the Jones Act Apply?…………14
Jones A ct S a f e t y r ule s ………..18
What’s Considered “Unsafe”?……………….19
5 Tactics Your Company Will Use…………..24
Commo n Mi sconce ptions …28
Accident Reports…………………………………28
Recorded Statements…………………………..29
Treating Physician………………………………..30
Negligent Medical Treatment………………..32
Part II: Filing a Claim…34
Type s o f Compensatio n………38
Pain & Suffering…………………………………..38
Medical Expenses………………………………..39
Loss of Wages…………………………………….39
Loss of Fringe Benefits…………………………40

TIMOTHY YOUNG
f ilin g a jo n e s a c t cl a im…..42
How Soon Should You File a Claim?………42
Where Should You File Your Claim?……….42
Finding the Right Maritime Attorney……..44
5 Qualities of a Jones Act Lawyer………….46
Filin g a M a ritime cl a im……50
Negligence…………………………………………51
Unseaworthiness…………………………………53
Damages……………………………………………53
Punitive Damages……………………………….54
Maintenance and Cure…………………………54
Part III: FAQs…………………….58
Should I Return to Work?……………………..58
Should I Settle on My Own?………………….60
Won’t I be Blacklisted if I File Suit?………..61
Will My Advances Be Cut Off?………………62
How Much Will My Case be Worth?……….64
How Long Will My Case Take?………………65
Part IV: Medical info…67
c ommo n M e dic a l t e s t s ………67

UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

Prologue
Louis pulled into his driveway after a long
and uncomfortable two-hour drive from the doctor’s office. The insurance guy had made the appointment and had driven Louis from the dock to
the company doctor.
After a quick “examination” and an X-ray,
Louis had been nonchalantly dropped off at his
car and left feeling worried and confused.
He sat gripping the steering wheel, hands
sweaty from the agony in his back and the anxiety
of the conversation with his wife to come.
He shifted in his seat and a stabbing pain raced
up his spine. He cringed. His leg was numb and he
needed to stand and stretch. Gingerly he got out of
the car and slowly walked to the back door, barely
noticing the kids’ toys littering the lawn.
What would he tell his wife?
He and Lisa had been married for eight years
now, and the times had been great. Offshore work
had paid so well, and he had been promoted three
times since he had started with the company. He
loved his job. But now all that could be gone.
Touching the cold doorknob, he paused, then en-

TIMOTHY YOUNG
tered.
He had hoped to enter quietly and come to his
wife in his own time, but she heard the door and
came to greet him.
The minute Lisa saw him limping she knew
that “IT” had happened: the accident. Another’s
careless mistake that they would now have to pay
for the rest of their lives.
How many nights had she lain awake dreading this very thing, wondering what they would
do, how they would survive?
They had only heard about it from friends,
and had always hoped that it was something that
only happened to other people.
Louis took Lisa’s hand and led her to the kitchen table so they could talk. They had to decide
what to do about their bills next month and his
back that was still killing him—even though that
doctor told him he was fine.
They needed to decide if he should try to return
to work the next hitch or try and recover. They had
so many decisions to make. So many decisions and
they did not know where to start…

UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

About thi s Book
Understanding your rights is the first step to protecting yourself. You rely upon your employers as well
as your coworkers for your day-to-day safety. Your company should follow the law and give you a safe place
to work, because you work in very dangerous environments. If you have been injured while working offshore
on a platform or vessel, it is critical that you are familiar
with your rights. Handling your injury is about more
than taking care of your body; it is about taking care of
you and your family’s future.
This maritime law guide will help you understand
your basic maritime and Jones Act rights. Please understand that maritime law and the Jones Act law are very
complicated. Our office has handled maritime claims
for more than fifty years and we limit our practice to
helping individuals injured on oil rigs and vessels.
This guide is set up into four parts: The Basics, Filing a Claim, FAQs, and Medical Info. Each of these parts
have subsections expanding on different concepts. At
the end of major subsections are “Main Points” that
help summarize the ideas expressed.
There are also “Insider Insight” boxes scattered
throughout the book that highlight important issues

TIMOTHY YOUNG
that you should pay attention to.
In addition to the “Insider Insights” are the “Insider
Tip” boxes which give you specific actions you can take
to improve your situation now. These are meant to be
simple steps that will either further educate you about
your situation or will give you suggestions on how you
can prevent further issues from popping up down the
road.
Lastly, there are definitions of common terms at the
bottom of pages along with an index at the back of the
book that points to specific pages where those terms
are discussed.
This guide is meant only as an introduction to
maritime and Jones Act law. Some of the statements
herein may not apply to your specific case. If you have
any questions after reading this guide, please be sure to
phone our office so that we can discuss your questions
in detail.
With that said, we congratulate you on taking the
time and effort to educate yourself on your basic day-today rights while working offshore or on a vessel! With
the information in this guide, you will have a more
comprehensive understanding of how you should be
treated while working offshore.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

Bas ics of Maritime Law
General maritime law (also known informally as
“maritime law”) applies to any injury or claim that occurs on “navigable” water. The definition of navigable
water certainly includes the Mississippi River as well
as the Gulf of Mexico. Many times it is not difficult to
determine if a body of water is “navigable” for purposes of maritime law. It is also important to determine
whether any land-based laws apply to your injury.
Although fixed platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are
sitting on “navigable water,” generally, maritime law
does not apply to injuries and accidents which occur on
the fixed platform. Instead, the law of the state where
the platform is located will usually apply to such situations. For example, if a worker is injured while working
on a fixed platform off of the coast of Louisiana, and
¤ General maritime law- a type of law that applies to any injury that
occurs on navigable water.
¤ Navigable water- bodies of water (such as rivers, canals or lakes)
where the water is deep enough, wide enough, and slow enough for a
vessel to travel.
¤ Fixed platform- a platform that is mostly stationary. It is not considered
a vessel and so the Jones Act will not apply to accidents that occur on
fixed platforms.
Part I: The Basics

TIMOTHY YOUNG
his accident occurs on the platform, Louisiana law will
apply to any possible claim that the employee may have
against any third parties. The same is true for individuals who are injured on or near docks within state waters. Very often the law of the state where the dock was
located will apply to such injuries.
Main Points:

  1. General maritime law applies to any injury or claim
    that occurs on “navigable” water.
  2. Navigable water is any body of water (rivers, lakes,
    canals, and oceans) that a vessel can travel on.
  3. Injuries on fixed platforms are not covered under
    maritime law.
    Navigable Waters
    Oceans Canals
    Rivers Lakes

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    Bas ics of The Jones A c t
    The Jones Act is a federal statute which provides
    extensive protections to an employee who is injured
    while working. It is one of few federal laws that truly
    protects employees who are involved in workplace accidents. If the Jones Act applies to your situation, you are
    actually considered a “ward” of the court. This term
    dates back more than a hundred years and essentially
    means that the court has a duty to protect you and your
    rights. Unfortunately, today this term does not carry as
    much weight as it used to many years ago. Nonetheless,
    injured seamen under the Jones Act are still technically
    considered wards of the court. This gives you an idea
    of the significant protections that the Jones Act gives to
    injured employees.
    If you are injured on land while driving an automobile within your state, in all likelihood the law of your
    state will apply to your injury. In a similar way, you
    must satisfy certain “status” requirements before maritime law and/or the Jones Act will even apply to your
    situation. In general, you will qualify for protection
    under the Jones Act (and file a claim under the Jones
    Act) if you are a “seaman” who is more or less permanently assigned to a vessel in navigation. We will discuss this definition later (see page 14 ).

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    Why Is the Jones Act so Important to You?
    The Jones Act allows an injured employee to collect
    money damages for any of the employer’s negligence
    which may have caused or contributed to the employee’s injury. If your company or coworker was at fault
    in causing or contributing to your accident and injury, you can collect compensation from your employer
    for your injury and damages. This law is very different
    than the general rule that an employee cannot sue his
    employer even if the employer caused his injury.
    Determining your status is the first and foremost
    step in better understanding the situation surrounding
    your injury.
    Main Points:
  4. The Jones Act protects injured employees.
  5. The Jones Act allows employees to collect damages
    from negligent employers.
  6. The Jones Act only applies to seamen.
    ¤ Jones Act- a federal statute which provides extensive protections to
    an employee who is assigned to a vessel and is injured while working
    offshore.
    ¤ Damages- money that is awarded through a court process to an injured
    worker who has been hurt through the negligent or wrongful actions of
    someone else.
    ¤ Negligence- refers to the failure of someone else to take the necessary
    precautions to prevent injury to another.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    Def inition of a seama n
    When Does the Jones Act Apply to You?
    The first issue which must be addressed in any offshore injury concerns the “status” of the employee.
    Determining the status of an injured employee can be
    very difficult.
    Although status in many cases is easy to determine
    (for example, with supply vessel employees or tug boat
    employees who are clearly seaman), the status of many
    cases are not determined until a hearing in court. Your
    status at the time of your accident can make a huge difference in the amount you may be allowed to receive
    for your injury.
    In order to be covered under the Jones Act you must
    be considered a “seaman.” This means that you are (1)
    more or less permanently (2) assigned to a vessel or fleet
    of vessels (3) in navigation. You must satisfy all three
    requirements in order to be considered a seaman and
    have the Jones Act apply to your claim. We will look
    more closely at what these requirements mean.
    ¤ Seaman- to be considered a seaman you must spend 30 percent or
    more of your time on a vessel that is navigation.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    “More or Less Permanently”
    The requirement that you be “more or less permanently” assigned to a vessel in navigation simply means
    that you spend at least 30 percent of your time aboard
    vessels while working for your employer. Many individuals will easily satisfy this requirement including
    traditional captains of vessels as well as oil rig workers
    who work aboard certain types of oil rigs in the Gulf
    of Mexico. Other individuals, however, will need to
    determine if their employer has assigned them to work
    aboard a vessel enough times during their period of employment. In some instances it is important to calculate the number of days that the employee was assigned
    to work aboard a vessel as opposed to assignments on
    land or on fixed platforms. Remember, the requirement is that at least 30 percent of your time be spent
    aboard “vessels” in order to qualify as a seaman under
    the Jones Act.
    “Assigned to a Vessel”
    Many will debate whether you are assigned to a
    “vessel.” Some structures are clearly vessels: traditional
    supply boats, crew boats, tug boats and moving barges.
    Employees who are more or less permanently assigned
    to work aboard such structures easily satisfy the requirement that they be assigned to a vessel. In the Gulf
    of Mexico certain types of oil rigs have also been deter-

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    mined to be vessels. These include jack-up rigs, semisubmersible rigs and the more recent drill ships. Rig
    workers assigned to these types of structures will also
    satisfy the requirement of being assigned to a vessel.
    “In Navigation”
    Finally, you must be on a vessel that is mobile (able
    to move) or in navigation. The vessel need not be moving at the time of your injury. Rather the vessel must
    not be dry docked or out of service for good. Certain
    specialty structures may or may not be considered a
    vessel depending upon their mobility at the time of the
    employee’s assignment or injury aboard the structure.
    These structures include work barges which may or
    may not have been rendered “work platforms.” In the
    Gulf of Mexico fixed platforms as well as SPARs are
    not considered vessels. These structures are essentially
    permanently fixed to the ocean bed, so they are considered islands of the state off of which they sit. Injuries
    on fixed platforms and SPARs will not qualify for the
    Jones Act.
    Main Points:
  7. Three main factors define you as a seaman: you are
    (1) more or less permanently (2) assigned to a vessel or
    fleet of vessels (3) in navigation.
  8. You must spend at least 30 percent of your time

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    aboard a vessel.
  9. Traditional supply boats, crew boats, tug boats,
    moving barges, jack-up rigs, semi-submersible rigs and
    the more recent drill ships are clearly vessels.
  10. SPARS, fixed platforms, and structures permanently fixed to the sea floor are not considered vessels.
    Are You a Seaman?
    Do You Work on a Vessel?
    Do You Spend 30 % or More of
    Your Time on a Vessel?
    Was the Vessel in Navigation or
    Capabale of Navigation?
    TRADITIONAL SUPPLY BOATS crew boats
    recent drill ships tug boats
    jack-up rigs MOVING BARGES
    semi-submersible rigs
    12 11
    10
    9
    8
    7 6 5
    4
    3
    2
    1
    If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you may be a seaman. Contact an experienced, maritime attorney to confirm.
    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    Jones A ct S a f e t y r ul e s t h a t
    protect you
    The Jones Act provides comprehensive safety rules
    in the favor of the employee. Most individuals working
    offshore have no idea of the significant rights and safety
    rules that apply to their day-to-day activities. Unfortunately, many companies routinely violate these rules.
    “Safe Place to Work” Safety Rule
    Under the Jones Act an employee has a right to a
    “safe place to work.” This is one of the broadest rules
    of the Jones Act and it applies to many situations which
    can cause injuries. If your case is decided by a judge or
    jury, that judge or jury will specifically determine if you
    were given a “safe place to
    work.”
    If you have suffered
    an injury and you think
    that the injury may have
    been caused because your
    workplace was unsafe,
    this could be a violation
    of the Jones Act.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    What is Considered to be “Unsafe”?
    Very often when we speak to potential clients we
    are told that “we always did the job that way” even
    though specific rules and regulations were being violated. Many times these individuals are not even aware
    that their safety was in jeopardy. To combat this, we
    have compiled a list of some of the most common unsafe conditions offshore:
    • Inexperienced or inadequately trained crew
    • Faulty machinery
    • Poorly maintained conditions or work areas
    • Defective equipment
    • Existence of dangerous conditions (such as grease
    or oil on surfaces)
    • Size of crew is insufficient (improper manpower)
    • Equipment isn’t fit for its intended use
    • Recreation facilities are unsafe
    • No appropriate safety equipment and gear
    • Slick surfaces such as on the deck
    • Old, rusted equipment
    “Proper Training” Safety Rule
    Under the Jones Act your employer also has duties
    to train you properly, to supervise your work activities
    properly, and to provide enough employees to do the
    jobs to which you are assigned.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    Often newly hired employees will not be properly
    trained on how to do a job. Employers routinely refer
    to “on-the-job training” (OJT). We have found that
    this type of training can be insufficient for many of the
    detailed, complicated jobs which require experienced
    workers. Unfortunately, the more dangerous procedures tend to be harder to perform. Sometimes the
    newest employee will be given the hardest job because
    the more experienced, more senior employees do not
    want to perform the harder job, leaving the new, less
    experienced worker doing the most dangerous jobs.
    “Proper Manpower” Safety Rule
    Employers must also provide enough workers for the
    job to be performed safely under the Jones Act. Some employers will continually perform a job without sufficient
    employees simply because “it
    has always been done that
    way.” The Jones Act addresses this exact situation and the
    judge or jury in your case will
    be told that simply performing a job repeatedly the same
    way does not necessarily
    VS
    Proper Manpower

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    make the procedure safe. This is particularly true concerning procedures which are performed infrequently.
    In these situations, many employers will not have sufficient manpower to perform the job because it is not a
    routine procedure. Nonetheless, these employers very
    often simply perform the job with the crew members
    that are available at that time.
    “Industry Standards” Safety Rule
    There are many industry-specific rules and regulations which also apply under the Jones Act. These
    industry standards include the American Petroleum
    Institute’s (API) standards which apply to the operation of cranes offshore as well as rigging of cranes and
    slings. Under the API rules, the crane operator is always “in charge” of any procedure being performed by
    the crane. The crane operator is also required to have
    a flag man present on all lifts and the crane operator is
    ultimately responsible for the rigging of all loads.
    “Coast Guard Regulations”
    The United States Coast Guard rules also apply
    under the Jones Act since the employee is assigned to a
    Coast Guard “vessel.” This is the reason that the Coast
    Guard will typically investigate serious injuries which
    occur under the Jones Act. Coast Guard regulations
    include keeping the vessel safe and making sure that

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    there are no dangerous trip
    or slip hazards aboard the
    vessel. All walkways also
    have to be properly marked
    under Coast Guard regulations.
    “OSHA Regulations”
    Finally, OSHA regulations also provide guidance
    under the Jones Act. OSHA
    has detailed requirements
    that inspections be performed of workplaces.
    OSHA also requires that employees be given “safe”
    work places and that all equipment and machinery be
    working properly. Typically, OSHA will have detailed
    specific rules such as requiring that the front of steps
    be marked with some type of visible marker including
    yellow paint.
    Main Points:
  11. As an offshore worker, there are many rules in place
    that are meant to protect your safety and your life. Unfortunately, employers do not always follow these regulations.
  12. You are entitled to a “safe place to work” and it is
    Insider Tip
    You can find all of the OSHA
    maritime regulations here:
    http://www.osha.gov/
    pls/oshaweb/owasrch.
    search_form?p_doc_
    type=STANDARDS&p_
    toc_level=1&p_
    keyvalue=Maritime
    You can also type “OSHA
    regulations” into Google
    and click the first link. You will
    then need to click the third
    link labeled “Maritime” near
    the middle of the page.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    your employer’s responsibility to provide this to you.
  13. Some examples of “unsafe” conditions are inexperienced or improperly trained crew, faulty machinery,
    poor maintenance, defective equipment, dangerous
    conditions, insufficient crew, tools used improperly,
    unsafe recreation facilities, lack of proper safety equipment and gear, slick surfaces, and old, rusted equipment.
  14. Your employer also has the duty to properly train
    you and your coworkers.
  15. The Jones Act further requires that employers provide enough workers to perform the assigned job safely.
  16. The Jones Act also specifies that employers must
    follow the additional guidelines provided by the American Petroleum Institute, the Coast Guard, and OSHA.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    5 Tactics Your Company Will Use After Your
    Injury
  17. Most maritime companies try to take a recorded
    statement from you immediately following your injury.
    Many companies will hire insurance company representatives to “investigate” your claim. These representatives typically tell you that they are trying to help you
    with your claim and they “just want to document your
    injury.”
    Do not believe these insurance company representatives. They work for your company, NOT you. In
    almost all cases the reason they are taking a recorded
    statement from you is to ask detailed questions about
    your background, accident and injury in order to (1)
    prove that they were not at fault for your accident, (2)
    prove you may have been at fault for your accident,
    and (3) catch you in a misstatement about anything (see
    item 5 below). You should never provide a tape recorded
    statement to your company or its insurance representative.
  18. Your company will obtain surveillance on you.
    Maritime companies try to obtain surveillance not only
    after a lawsuit is filed but, incredibly, sometimes within
    days of your accident and injury. We have seen many
    cases in which within two to three days the company

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    has hired private investigators to document the injured
    worker’s daily activities. If you
    are continuing to work outside
    and trying to perform regular
    activities following your injury,
    your company may be trying to
    obtain videotape of such activities. Very often companies will
    refuse to pay for medical treatment based upon videotape that they have obtained of
    you.
  19. Your company will insist that you receive treatment from their chosen doctor. Even though maritime
    law is very clear that an injured worker has the right to
    choose his own treating physician, almost every maritime company will insist that an injured worker receive
    medical treatment from a doctor that it chooses. This
    can be devastating to you and your future.
    If you receive treatment from a company-chosen
    physician, sometimes it is impossible to prove the nature of your injury. Most company-chosen physicians
    refuse or delay required medical testing which could
    prove the nature of your injury. Most company physicians will simply suggest that you wait several weeks
    following your injury to see if it resolves itself. These
    doctors very often encourage you to “try” to return to
    Insider Insight

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    work as soon as possible regardless of whether you have
    had basic medical testing performed. And once you return to work, it is very difficult to get approval for additional medical treatment since the company will claim
    that you were “able to return to work.”
  20. Your company will refuse to let you choose your
    own treating physician. This tactic goes hand-in-hand with tactic
    3 above when your company insists that you receive treatment
    from a doctor that it has chosen.
    Very often your company will tell
    you that you must see a companychosen doctor at the start of your
    treatment.
    Unfortunately, once this doctor declares that you
    are released to “full duty” work, your company will
    then use this as an excuse to refuse you the right to see
    your own chosen physician. Once you begin treatment
    from a company-chosen physician, very often it is impossible for you to receive treatment from other doctors later on. It is always best to insist that you be seen
    by a doctor that you trust and that you choose. You
    have the right to select your own treating doctor.
  21. Your company will make every effort possible to

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    catch you in a misstatement. This is one of the most
    frustrating tactics used by offshore maritime companies in fighting maritime injury claims. Every single
    case we have handled involved company lawyers trying
    to catch the injured party in a misstatement (or as they
    say, a “lie”).
    The nature of the misstatement does not make any
    difference. For example, if you told the company during
    your recorded statement that you had never sustained
    any injuries in the past, yet years ago you temporarily
    suffered a 3 month knee injury from which you fully recovered, this misstatement could end up ruining your
    case even if it has nothing to do with your offshore injury.
    You will be put on trial during your case and any
    misstatement that you make, regardless of how inconsequential, may ruin your case. It is very important that
    you understand your company will be prosecuting you
    from the beginning of your case during your offshore
    maritime claim and everything you say and do will be
    questioned by the company as well as the company lawyer.
    They want to focus your case away from your injury and on other issues, including any trivial incorrect
    statements you may have made in the past.
    Insider Insight

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    Common Mi sconce ptio n s &
    Issues
    There are several common issues that appear in
    many Jones Act cases. We have found that many of our
    clients have specific questions concerning the following issues.
    Accident Reports
    There is absolutely no requirement that an employee complete a written accident report under the
    Jones Act. Although it is certainly best to document
    your accident and injury with a written accident report,
    the Jones Act does not prohibit your claim from being
    filed if an accident report was not completed. Very often an employee will report his accident and injury to
    a supervisor who tells the employee to delay completing a report in order to determine if the injury is serious. Then, when the employee attempts to complete
    the written report later, he is told that he can no longer
    complete the report at that time. Just remember, completing an accident report is absolutely not required
    to file suit and successfully collect damages under the
    Jones Act.
    The Jones Act requires only that you prove that you
    suffered an injury at work for which your employer was

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    responsible. You may prove such without a written report. We have successfully proved accidents by using
    employees’ medical records, the testimony of their coworkers, or their own testimony.
    Recorded Statements
    An employee is not required to give a recorded
    statement under the Jones Act. Many companies will
    immediately take a tape-recorded statement from an
    injured employee following his accident. Providing a
    tape-recorded statement does not in any way help or
    strengthen your case. In fact, most tape-recorded statements will hurt a worker’s Jones Act claim.
    Typically employees are told that they need to provide recorded statements in order to receive medical
    treatment and to properly document their accidents.
    Again, there is absolutely no requirement under the
    Jones Act or any other law that the employee provides
    a recorded statement. Nonetheless, many workers will
    provide statements believing that it is necessary in order for them to receive medical treatment.
    When the statement is taken, detailed questions
    concerning the accident are asked, including whether
    there was anything unsafe that caused or contributed
    to the accident. Many employees have not had time to

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    think through the accident and typically will answer
    very quickly that the company was not at fault for the
    accident (and they just want to get medical treatment
    and get back to work). Often employees believe that
    their injuries may be insignificant and believe that they
    will keep their job with the employer. Sometimes employees are taking medication when they provide the
    recorded statement and they simply do not understand
    or listen carefully to the questions.
    In general, it is best to refuse to give a recorded statement following your accident. You may simply inform
    the company very politely that you either have completed a written report or will complete a written report
    concerning the accident at which time you can carefully provide answers to any necessary questions. If your
    company insists that you provide a recorded statement,
    your company is protecting itself, not you.
    Treating Physician
    Under the Jones Act you are allowed to choose
    your own treating physician following your injury.
    This is perhaps the rule most violated by companies.
    It makes perfect sense that your employer would not
    want you to select a good, unbiased physician for your
    injury. Your employer seldom has any desire for you
    to receive immediate proper medical treatment which

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    could potentially prove the seriousness of your injury.
    Instead, most employers will provide you with a “company doctor” who will delay running necessary tests or
    delay providing specialized treatment for your injury.
    Not only can this be detrimental to your overall health
    but also to any future claim you may want to have. This
    tactic typically serves two purposes.
    First, the company can later say that your injury
    was not very serious since you received only basic, conservative treatment for several months following your
    injury. You will also not have proper testing performed
    to show the nature and extent of your injury during the
    first few months of your recovery.
    Second, if a company doctor treats you for several
    weeks or even months and then declares that you have
    reached maximum improvement and you do not need
    any further treatment, your company will typically refuse to provide you with any further medical treatment
    on these grounds.
    So, while you may think you are cooperating with
    the company by going to see a doctor that they have
    selected to treat you, in reality you may be making it
    very hard for yourself to receive proper medical treatment if the company-selected doctor discharges you. It
    is always best to insist that you receive treatment from

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    a doctor that you select and trust. It is also best to insist
    that all proper medical testing be performed as soon as
    possible following your injury.
    Negligent Medical Treatment
    If you receive negligent medical treatment from
    a doctor selected by your company to treat you, your
    company is responsible for this negligent treatment.
    Typically this occurs when a company-selected doctor
    delays treatment of a condition that could have been
    properly treated early on. It may also occur nowadays
    especially when individuals receive treatment in foreign countries while working overseas. We have handled several cases in which the employee did not receive proper treatment from an overseas medical clinic
    selected by their employer. In these circumstances the
    employer is responsible for the negligent medical treatment as well as any damage caused by the treatment.
    Main Points:
  22. You’re not required by law to complete a written
    accident report, especially not immediately after your
    injury when you’re dazed. You should do one when you
    are clear headed and are able to reflect on the incident.
  23. Despite what your company may say, you do not
    have to provide a recorded statement.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
  24. You can and should choose your own doctor. You
    are not required to use the company doctor for your injury. If you receive treatment from the company doctor, it may be hard to receive future medical treatment.
  25. Your company is responsible for any negligent
    medical treatment you receive from their chosen doctor or hospital.
    3 Maritime Injury Myths Debunked
    You must give an accident report.
    Myth 1:
    Accident reports are not required.
    Fact 1:
    Statements are not required by law.
    Fact 2:
    You must give a recorded statement.
    Myth 2:
    You can choose your own doctor.
    Fact 3:
    You must see the company doctor.
    Myth 3:

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    When Cons id e ring a jo n e s
    act cl a im
    Who is at Fault?
    There are two important points to remember when
    you consider filing a suit against your employer under
    the Jones Act. First, in order to receive compensation
    under the Jones Act you must prove that your company
    or your coworkers were negligent. The Jones Act is a
    fault-based statute, meaning that you only collect damages if your company was at fault. This fault can take
    many forms, including the improper or unsafe acts of
    your coworkers, an unsafe workplace, or unsafe or improper instructions. It is often easy to show that your
    injury could have been avoided if your company acted
    in a safer manner.
    Second, the Jones Act allows your employer to allege and argue “comparative fault” on your part. This
    means that if your company can prove that you caused
    ¤ Comparative fault- (also known as comparative responsibility) a
    legal policy that compares the fault of each party (both defendants and
    prosecution) for a single injury. This is determined by looking at how
    responsible each party is for causing the accident.
    Part II: Filing a Claim

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    or contributed to your own accident and injury, this
    amount of fault will reduce your recovery by that percentage. For example, if your company proves through
    evidence and testimony that you contributed 50 percent to your own accident, any damages which
    you are entitled to under
    the Jones Act will be reduced by 50 percent.
    It is critical that an
    injured employee understand the nature of the
    Jones Act in this regard.
    This comparative fault
    rule fully explains why
    almost all companies will immediately blame an injured
    Insider Insight
    The Jones Act’s comparative
    fault statute is one of the main
    reasons why a company will
    immediately blame an injured
    worker for his/her own accident.
    This statute allows companies
    to argue that you were partly to
    blame for your accident and if
    they convince the judge or jury,
    they could potentially reduce
    what they have to pay you for
    your injury.
    The Jones Act’s Comparative Fault
    You claim the
    company was
    % at fault. claims you were % at fault.
    The company 
    Your compensation
    is reduced by the
    percent that your
    company proves $you are at fault.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    employee for their own
    accident. It also explains
    why a company will immediately take a recorded statement from the
    injured employee and
    discuss the way that the
    accident happened during the statement. In short, the company is simply trying to defend itself early and quickly against any type
    of claim that you may later file under the Jones Act.
    Our office strongly encourages injured workers to state
    clearly why their accident happened, including listing
    any fault on the part of the company or their coworkers on the accident reports. Injured employees should
    also be sure to list any dangerous condition or unsafe
    equipment which may have caused or contributed to
    their accident.
    The Jones Act’s Burden of Proof
    Under the Jones Act an employee has a “featherweight” burden of proof in regard to causation of his
    injuries. This is a very important and favorable rule
    under the Jones Act. When you present your maritime
    case to a judge or jury, you must be able to prove that
    your injury was caused by your accident. The Jones Act
    greatly helps you by requiring only a “featherweight”
    Insider Tip
    When submitting an accident
    report, always state clearly how
    your accident happened and if
    anyone contributed to it. You
    should also list any dangerous or
    unsafe conditions or equipment
    that may have caused your injury.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    burden of proof to show that your injury was caused by
    the accident. This rule is especially helpful if you have
    previously injured the same part of your body as you
    injured in your current accident. By using the featherweight burden of proof, you may be able to successfully
    show that your current injury was caused by the most
    recent accident, even if you had previously injured the
    same part of your body many years ago.
    Main Points:
  26. To receive compensation under the Jones Act, you
    must prove that your company or coworkers did something wrong to cause your injury.
  27. Your employer is allowed to counterargue that you
    caused your own injury. This is called “comparative
    fault” and allows them to reduce how much they pay
    you by the percentage you caused your own injury.
  28. Your employer will almost always try to prove that
    you caused your own injury. They will do this by keeping you under surveillance, by getting you to sign accident reports that claim you were at fault, by using their
    own doctor, and by getting recorded statements from
    you.
  29. The Jones Act has a featherweight burden of proof,
    which means it takes less for you to prove that your injury was caused by your accident.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    Typ es of Comp ensatio n
    u nd er Jones act l a w
    What Can You Get from a Jones Act
    Claim?
    Under the Jones Act you are entitled to collect any
    damages which are directly related to your accident.
    Typically these damages will include pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of wages and fringe benefits.
    Pain & Suffering
    There are two types of pain and suffering damages
    that you can collect under the Jones Act: past pain and
    suffering and future pain and suffering. The damages
    allowed for pain and suffering depend greatly upon the
    nature of your injury. You will be allowed to collect
    damages for both past as well as future pain and suffering if you prove these damages at trial.
    In regards to past pain and suffering damages, your
    testimony as well as the testimony of your treating doctors will be very important. We also routinely call as
    witnesses an injured employee’s spouse or friends to
    ¤ Pain and suffering- physical or emotional stress caused by your injury.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    testify as to how the injury has affected the employee’s
    life.
    However, with future pain and suffering damages it
    is often best to rely upon your treating physicians who
    can testify as to whether or not your condition will improve or worsen in the future. Judges and juries are
    allowed to estimate the amount and type of pain and
    suffering that you will most likely experience in the future, and under the Jones Act they are allowed to award
    money damages for this suffering even though it has
    not occurred.
    Medical Expenses
    Like pain and suffering, you can
    get compensation for past and future
    medical expenses related to your injury.
    Loss of Wages
    You are also entitled to recover for past and future
    loss of wages and fringe benefits that are directly related
    to your injury. Our office routinely works with experienced economists who will calculate the exact value of
    ¤ Loss wages- the income you would have earned if you were not injured.
    h

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    your past and future loss of wages and fringe benefits.
    In almost all cases, an expert economist is required to
    predict future loss of wages. Most courts will not allow
    an employee to collect loss of future wages and future
    fringe benefits unless an expert economist has made
    these calculations for the jury.
    Calculating your loss of past and future wages
    greatly depends upon the amount of money that you
    were earning at the time of your injury. However, the
    Jones Act also allows you to be awarded money based
    upon promotions and raises in pay which, in all likelihood, you would have received had you kept working.
    This can be very important for long-term employees
    who have a proven history of receiving pay raises over
    their years of employment.
    Our office is very careful to calculate future wages
    assuming that certain employees may have received
    pay raises in the future. This can make the difference
    between collecting the amount to which you are truly
    entitled rather than simply the amount which appears
    on your current paycheck.
    Loss of Fringe Benefits
    One of the great benefits of working offshore or on
    a vessel is the significant fringe benefits that many mar-

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    itime employees receive. Most often you will no longer receive these fringe benefits after you are injured.
    Fringe benefits typically include:
    • Meals provided to the employee while working
    • Retirement benefits
    • Health insurance
    • Disability insurance
    Our office will obtain all of your pay records including the value of your fringe benefits and use this
    information to calculate the true value of your past and
    future economic losses, including loss of fringe benefits. Sometimes your loss of fringe benefits can amount
    to almost as much as your loss of actual wages.
    Main Points:
  30. There are four main types of damages you can collect under the Jones Act: pain and suffering, medical
    expenses, loss wages, and loss of fringe benefits.
  31. To collect past pain and suffering, often you will
    need the testimony of your doctor and another individual who has seen how your injury affects you. For
    future pain and suffering you will mostly rely on your
    physician’s testimony.
  32. To collect loss of wages or fringe benefits, you will
    need an expert economist to prove how much you
    would have earned over the years.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    Making the d e ci s ion to f il e
    a jones act cl a im
    How Soon Should You File a Claim?
    Claims filed under the Jones Act must be filed within three years of the employee’s injury. Please note that
    it is critical to file your claim as soon as possible after
    your injury if you have sustained a serious injury. Individuals who choose to wait until the end of the three
    year period may find that documents have been lost or
    destroyed or witnesses simply do not remember important details concerning the employee’s accident. Although claims under the Jones Act do not need to be
    filed until three years from the date of the injury, usually it is important to file the suit much sooner.
    Where Should You File Your Claim?
    A suit filed under the Jones Act can be filed in either state court or federal court. There is a legal principle known as the “savings to suitors” clause that provides that even though the Jones Act is a federal statute,
    claims under the Jones Act may still be filed in state
    courts, which recognize federal claims under the Jones
    Act. However, if you file your claim in federal court
    under the Jones Act, you alone have the right to select
    either a judge or jury trial. By contrast, typically if a
    Jones Act claim is filed in state court, either party will

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    have the right to a trial by jury. Depending upon the
    facts of your case and the federal judge to whom your
    case may be assigned, sometimes it is better to select a
    trial by judge rather than a trial by jury.
    The location of the courthouse where you are allowed to file suit varies from case to case. Normally you
    will be allowed to choose between several locations to
    file suit. If you file suit in federal court, any federal court
    in the United States has the
    ability to hear your case.
    However, in federal court
    there is a rule known as “forum non conveniens” which
    essentially requires that the federal court you select be
    located near some of the relevant activities that did, or
    will, occur in your case. This can include the location
    of the original accident or the location of your treating
    doctors or the location of key witnesses in your case including yourself. If you file suit in state court, there is
    usually also a requirement that some of the activities
    ¤ Forum non conveniens- a legal rule that allows courts to require a
    case be tried in the jurisdiction that is most appropriate to the parties
    involved. This means that the federal court must be near some of the
    relevant activities that did or will occur.
    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    in your case have occurred near that location. This requirement can often be satisfied if the company has an
    office located nearby or if you were sent offshore from
    that location.
    Our office regularly files suits in federal and state
    court in south Louisiana on behalf of workers from
    Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and other southern
    states, since their employers have offices in Louisiana
    and/or the employee worked out of south Louisiana.
    Finding the Right Maritime Attorney
    It can be difficult deciding
    to hire a maritime lawyer
    much less researching them.
    There are dozens and dozens of “maritime” law firms
    listed online but which ones
    should you choose?
    Often people base their decisions on factors that would apply to other areas of
    their life but do not necessarily apply to finding the
    right maritime attorney. Some might use location, the
    size of a billboard message, or a catchy song to help
    them decide who to choose.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    However, we believe that the most
    important factor you
    want to consider is
    whether or not the attorney is focused on
    your circumstances. If
    you are putting your
    future in someone’s hands, it should be in the hands
    of an experienced and focused maritime attorney who
    knows your problems, knows how to solve your problems, and has the resources to do it.
    Main Points:
  33. If you’re going to file a claim, you must do it no later
    than three years after your injury. We recommend you
    do it sooner than that as the important documents related to your injury (such as your accident report, medical tests, statements, etc.) may have conveniently “disappeared” by that time.
  34. The Jones Act allows you to file a claim in a federal or state court. We often choose federal court as it
    allows you to choose whether your case is heard by a
    judge or a jury.
  35. If you’re going to hire an attorney to handle your
    case, you should hire a maritime attorney that focuses
    on your problem.
    Insider Tip
    Visit the below link to learn how
    to effectively research attorneys
    online and find the right maritime
    attorney for you.

    library/researching-maritime-lawfirms.cfm

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    5 Qualities Your Jones Act Maritime Lawyer
    “Must Have”
  36. Must Focus On Jones Act And Maritime Injury
    Cases. When you need to see a doctor, you want to go
    see a doctor who specializes in the type of injury that
    you have suffered. In the same way, you should hire a
    maritime lawyer who focuses the practice on handling
    Jones Act and maritime injury claims.
    If you need to have open heart surgery, you would
    want to have a heart surgeon who specializes in that
    type of surgery. If you need to have knee surgery, you
    would want to see a doctor who specializes in knee surgeries. Likewise, when you have a serious maritime injury, you should find a good maritime lawyer who focuses the practice on handling maritime injury cases.
    Many “general practice” lawyers in your area are very
    nice and know a little bit about lots of different laws.
    Unfortunately, these lawyers typically are not experienced enough with complicated Jones Act and maritime laws to truly handle a maritime injury claim.
  37. Must Have Extensive Courtroom Experience.
    It is amazing how many attorneys never actually go to
    court to argue aspects of the case or try cases before
    judges and juries. Maritime lawsuits are defended by
    the insurance companies and company lawyers. These

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    company lawyers will fight every issue in your maritime
    case and this often involves arguing motions before the
    court. Very often Jones Act and maritime cases are prepared all the way up until the point of trial, at which
    time a fair settlement can finally be reached. If not, your
    case will need to be presented to a jury. Your maritime
    injury attorney will most likely spend as much time in
    court on your case as he will working on the case outside of court. It is very important that your attorney
    have extensive courtroom experience so that he can
    successfully handle your case.
  38. Must Have Significant Financial Resources
    (Money!). Your maritime injury claim will be expensive
    to present successfully to a judge or jury. Typically,
    your claim will involve loss of past and future wages
    and fringe benefits. An economic expert is necessary
    to testify regarding this issue at trial. Your case may
    require a liability expert to show what the company did
    wrong that caused your injury. These experts require
    payment up front and your maritime attorney will be
    responsible for hiring and funding these experts until
    your case can settle. For every dollar that the company
    spends in an effort to defend your claim, your attorney
    must be prepared to finance your case in a similar way.
    Insider Insight
    ¤ Motion- a legal request for the judge to determine some aspect of
    the case.
    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY
  39. Must Have a Great Team. Your maritime injury
    claim will require office resources and skills as well as
    financial resources. In order to successfully prove your
    case, hours and hours of effort and work will be spent
    in accumulating the necessary documents and obtaining the necessary testimony to prove your case at trial.
    This work includes getting all of your medical and
    work records, arranging and paying for medical treatment so that you can prove your injury, hiring and working with experts in regards to your damages, working
    with experts to prove the fault of the company, scheduling and taking depositions from key witnesses, and
    organizing all of these documents and information so
    that they can be successfully presented at court. Your
    maritime attorney needs to have an office staff that is
    experienced and able to prepare your case.
  40. Must Be Ready To Prepare Your Case Fully.
    This may be one of the most important requirements
    of your maritime injury attorney. Very often successful
    attorneys will have significant financial resources, office staff and even have experience handling maritime
    claims. However, many of these attorneys will accept
    lots of cases but truly pursue only a few of these cases.
    ¤ Deposition- a legal question and answer session that is recorded and
    later used in court as testimony.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    In other words, they may accept your claim and if they
    eventually determine that they do not view your case as
    a “high dollar case,” they may limit their work on your
    case. Your attorney must be ready to prepare your case
    fully for trial. When you hire your attorney, you should
    ask if he is truly ready and able to prepare your case fully in order to obtain a good settlement or trial result.
    Insider Insight
    FOCUS
    RESOURCES PREPARATION
    GREAT
    TEAM EXPERIENCE

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    Filing Suit und er Genera l
    Maritime Law
    Lawsuits filed under general maritime law must be
    filed within three years of the accident that gives rise to
    the suit. It is usually best to file the claim as soon as possible to prevent the loss of valuable records.
    These suits can be filed either in state court or federal court. There is no right to a trial by jury under a
    claim based solely on general maritime law.
    However, when a general maritime law claim is
    combined with another basis for jurisdiction within
    the court, including the Jones Act and/or diversity of
    the parties, the injured party will have the right to a
    trial by jury.
    While only “seamen” can file suit under the Jones
    Act, any individual can file a suit under general maritime law if he or she has been involved in an accident
    that occurred on navigable waters.
    Typically passengers aboard cruise line vessels as
    well as offshore workers who are injured by non-employer third parties will file their claims under general
    maritime law.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    Negligence under General Maritime
    Law
    Maritime law provides that a party is responsible
    for any damages caused by their “negligence.” Negligence under general maritime law is defined as failing
    to do what a reasonable person would have done under
    similar circumstances. This is the “reasonable person”
    test which also applies to most state-based negligence
    claims.
    Typically, a party can prove negligence under maritime law by showing that the defendant failed to take
    some type of action which should have been taken or
    by showing that the defendant acted in an improper
    or unsafe manner. In order to recover under a general
    maritime law claim, you must prove that the defendant
    was “negligent.”
    General maritime law also provides for comparative fault against the party filing suit. This means that
    the defendant can and will try to claim that the injured
    party was responsible in whole or in part for causing his
    or her own injury.
    Injured offshore workers who file suits against nonemployer third parties will still need to show that they
    did not in any way cause or contribute to their own ac-

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    cident.
    If the injured party is found to be at fault for his or
    her own accident, then the damages are reduced by the
    percentage of fault. So, if the judge or jury finds that
    the injured party was 20 percent at fault in causing his
    or her own accident, the damages will be reduced by 20
    percent.
    Finally, maritime law will also allow defendants to
    reduce the amount of damages they must pay by any
    other non party’s fault.
    For example, if another company caused your accident and that company is not named in your lawsuit,
    then the defendant in your lawsuit may try to place
    blame upon the unnamed company.
    If the defendant is successful, your damages will
    be reduced by the amount of fault placed upon the unnamed company. This is why when you file suit, it is
    very important to name as a defendant any party that
    may be responsible for your accident.
    ¤ Seaworthy- a vessel is seaworthy if it is reasonably fit for its intended
    purpose and if all equipment or accessories are also fit for the intended
    purposes.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    General Maritime Law Unseaworthiness
    One of the main principles of general maritime law
    is the doctrine of seaworthiness. Under general maritime law a vessel owner must provide a “seaworthy”
    vessel. The law states that every vessel must be “reasonably fit for its intended purpose.” This includes not
    only the vessel itself but also its equipment and “appurtenances,” or accessories.
    If a piece of equipment breaks or malfunctions, and
    this contributes to your accident, typically a claim will
    be filed under general maritime law under the doctrine
    of seaworthiness (along with any other appropriate
    claim such as a Jones Act claim). The doctrine of seaworthiness only applies to the vessel owner.
    Damages under General Maritime Law
    General maritime law provides that injured parties
    shall be compensated for all damages related to their
    injuries. This includes
    • Past and future loss of wages
    • Loss of fringe benefits
    • Past and future physical/mental pain and suffering
    ¤ Punitive damages- these damages go above and beyond typical
    damages and are aimed at “punishing” the defendant. Punitive damages
    are not typically awarded, but you should still seek these damages.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    • Past and future medical expenses
    Please note that if you have filed a Jones Act claim
    along with a general maritime law claim, you cannot
    collect double the damages.
    Punitive Damages Under General
    Maritime Law
    General maritime law allows a party to seek punitive damages against the defendant.
    While the law is very complicated as to whether all
    injured maritime workers can seek punitive damages
    under maritime law, we typically ask for such in almost
    all cases we file.
    Maintenance and Cure under General
    Maritime Law
    Under general maritime law an employer has an obligation to provide its injured employee with “maintenance and cure.” Typically maintenance and cure claims
    ¤ Maintenance-defined by the law as the amount it costs for you to
    maintain yourself on land as your employer did at sea. You are entitled to
    receive maintenance if you are injured.
    ¤ Cure-defined as medical expenses that are reasonable and related to
    your injury. You are allowed to select your own choice of treating physician
    and your company must pay for any medical treatment that is reasonable
    and related to your injury.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    are filed by injured seamen since these individuals are necessarily
    filing suit against their
    employers.
    The law states that
    all ambiguities or doubts
    in regard to a maintenance and cure claim should be resolved in favor of the seaman. This doctrine gives you
    an idea of how strong your rights are to maintenance
    and cure benefits. Maintenance is defined by the law
    as the amount it costs for you to maintain yourself on
    land as your employer did at sea.
    In other words maintenance typically includes the
    costs for your lodging, food and monthly bills while you
    are injured. Most companies pay a fixed rate of $15.00
    to $30.00 per day as maintenance. There is absolutely
    no basis in the law for the payment of this amount.
    Most companies arbitrarily select this amount and
    argue that this amount has been paid for many years to
    injured seamen. It is very important that you seek the
    maintenance rate that is proper to pay your expenses
    while you are injured.
    Insider Tip
    You will receive in the mail a free
    Maintenance & Cure checklist
    as well as a Monthly Expense
    Letter to fill out and give to your
    company. If you do not receive
    these resources, please call us
    at 504-680-4100 and we will
    send them immediately.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    Cure is defined as medical expenses that are reasonable and related to your injury. You are allowed to
    select your own choice of treating physician and your
    company must pay for any medical treatment that is
    reasonable and related to your injury. If your employer
    fails to pay maintenance and cure, you can present a
    claim to the judge or jury that your employer was (1) unreasonable in failing to pay maintenance and cure and
    (2) arbitrary in refusing to pay maintenance and cure.
    There is an escalating standard as to whether your employer was, first, unreasonable, then, arbitrary.
    If your employer is found to be unreasonable in failing to pay maintenance and cure, you may be awarded
    attorney fees associated with having to file suit in order
    to receive maintenance and cure.
    Additionally, if your employer is found not only
    to be unreasonable but also arbitrary in failing to pay
    maintenance and cure, you may be awarded both punitive damages and damages for any worsening of your
    condition due to your employer’s failure to pay your
    maintenance and cure.
    Main Points:
  41. Claims under general maritime law must be filed
    within three years of your injury.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
  42. Only seamen can file under the Jones Act, but any
    individual injured on navigable waters can file a general maritime claim.
  43. Like the Jones Act, general maritime law allows for
    comparative fault.
  44. The amount you receive for your claim could be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to a third
    party.
  45. Under maritime law, a vessel owner must provide a
    seaworthy vessel.
  46. You cannot collect damages with both a Jones Act
    claim and a general maritime claim.
  47. General maritime law allows for punitive damages.
  48. An employer is obligated to pay for you to be able
    to maintain yourself on land as your employer did at
    sea. This is called maintenance.
  49. Maintenance is the amount it costs for you to maintain yourself on land. This includes expenses such as
    rent, clothing, transportation, food, and other monthly
    expenses.
  50. Your employer must pay for medical expenses that
    are reasonable and related to your injury. This is called
    cure.
  51. Cure is considered the medical expenses that are
    reasonable and related to your injury.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    Fr equently A ske d
    Questions About Of f s h o r e
    I nju ri es and Maritime
    Cl a ims
    Should I Return to Work as Soon as
    Possible After My Injury?
    You should not attempt
    to return to work unless your
    injury was very minor and you
    are positive that you have fully
    recovered from your injury.
    Many workers insist that they
    want to return to work immediately after their injury because they need to receive full
    wages.
    This is “penny wise but pound foolish” as they say.
    Some of these workers will receive treatment from company-chosen doctors who immediately release them
    to “attempt” to return to work following their injury.
    Very often this can be a critical mistake to your future.
    Part III: FAQs

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    If your injury becomes aggravated or worsened after you attempt to return to work, very often the company will then claim that you are responsible for making your injury worse. Even though the doctor may
    have returned you to work, the focus of your claim will
    then become if you made your injury worse after you
    returned to work. You will be faced with a situation of
    having to prove that you did not seriously aggravate or
    worsen your condition when you attempted to return
    to work.
    Additionally, many companies will claim after you
    return to work that “you were perfectly fine while at
    work.” In other words your company may be watching
    you after you return to work and even if you later claim
    that your condition continued to bother you, your
    company may claim that you were perfectly fine after
    you returned to work.
    Finally, once you return to work your company will
    very often refuse to provide you with any further medical treatment. Your company will argue that since you
    were able to return to work, you no longer need medical treatment. Overall, returning to work too quickly
    before you have fully recovered from your injury can
    not only ruin your maritime injury claim if you file one
    but can also seriously worsen your injury.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    Should I Try to Settle My Case Without
    an Attorney First?
    Many offshore workers ask if they should meet
    alone with the company or the company’s insurance
    representative to discuss settlement with the company,
    before the worker speaks with or hires an attorney. In
    almost all cases this is a horrible mistake.
    First, the company typically will not make a firm
    offer to you. Instead the company will repeatedly ask
    “how much” you would like to settle the claim for. No
    matter what figure you give to the company or the insurance representative, the company or insurance representative will offer significantly less. Sometimes the
    injured employee has no idea the value of his claim if
    he has not yet talked to a maritime lawyer.
    You may believe $10,000, $15,000, or even $20,000
    is a fair amount for the injury you’ve incurred, but
    your medical bills could come out to three times that
    amount and so your case could potentially be worth
    much more. Your company’s objective is to pay as little
    as possible; yours should be to look after your injury
    and your future.
    More importantly, very often injured maritime
    workers will try to settle their claims so that they can

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    obtain money to receive further medical treatment. If
    there is any need whatsoever for further medical treatment, it is critical that you do not settle your claim until
    all necessary medical treatment has been performed.
    Most company doctors will not perform expensive
    medical testing to fully discover any possible injury.
    You simply cannot settle your maritime claim until an
    independent, trustworthy doctor has performed all
    such testing. It would be like trying to buy a car without test driving the car, or even seeing the car beforehand. You would simply be guessing at the value.
    Won’t I be Blacklisted if I File Suit?
    The “blacklist” was a rumor started many years ago
    by offshore companies in an effort to scare employees
    from filing suit. Our office has handled claims for several individuals who have successfully returned to work
    offshore following the resolution of their injury claims.
    When you apply for employment in the future after
    your maritime injury, it is critical that you are honest
    about your past injury and the medical treatment that
    you have received. However, companies should not ask
    if you have ever filed suit in the past. If such question
    is on your application, you are under no legal obligation
    to answer such question.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    If I Hire an Attorney, Will My Company
    Cut Off My Advances?
    Many maritime companies provide employees with
    monthly payments that the company characterizes as
    “advances.” While it is true that most companies will
    terminate these “advancements” if you file suit, in almost all cases you will have other means of financial
    support which can be used in such situations. If you
    have any short or long-term disability insurance, you
    can apply for and typically receive such benefits during
    your case. Additionally, some state laws allow attorneys
    to advance clients living expenses while their suits are
    being prosecuted. Finally, if the company has characterized your monthly living expenses as “advances,” a
    good maritime lawyer will argue that such payments
    should have been included under your “maintenance”
    payment. It is always best to think long term in regards
    to your maritime injury rather than month to month.
    You should be concerned about your future over the
    next three to five years and not your monthly expenses
    over the next three to five months.
    The Company Doctor is Refusing to
    Perform Medical Testing. What Should
    I Do?
    If you are receiving medical treatment from a company chosen doctor, very often the doctor will not im-

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    mediately perform medical testing to fully diagnose the
    nature and extent of your injuries. Today basic medical
    testing should include MRIs as well as nerve conduction studies. An
    MRI may be performed on your
    neck, shoulder,
    back, knees, ankles and other
    parts of your
    body. The MRI
    test shows soft
    tissue and ligament damages
    that are not seen
    on a plain film X-ray. If the company chosen doctor
    is refusing to perform basic medical testing including
    MRIs, you should seek medical treatment elsewhere
    from a local physician you know and trust.
    Unfortunately, many companies have little desire
    to pay for medical testing which could prove the seriousness of your injury. Very often when the company
    doctor delays or refuses to perform basic medical test-
    ¤ Soft tissue- Soft tissue injuries are those related to the tendons,
    ligaments, connective tissue, skin, fat, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels,
    but not bone.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    ing, it is the first sign that the company is fighting your
    case.
    How Much Will My Case be Worth?
    Every case must be evaluated on the facts of the case.
    There are a few basic, important factors that generally
    determine the difference between a relatively small valued case and a higher valued case. One of these factors
    is the amount of money you previously earned as opposed to how much you’ll be earning after your injury.
    If you have suffered an injury which prevents you
    from returning to heavy manual labor and you previously earned significant wages working offshore or performing heavy manual labor for a maritime company,
    in all likelihood
    you will have a significant loss of future wage claim.
    Most highdollar Jones Act
    and maritime injury claims involve significant loss of wage claims in
    addition to pain and suffering damages and medical expenses.
    Estimating the Value of Your
    Jones Act Case
    $ Previous Income
    Income after injury
    Amount of lost wages

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    One way to estimate the value of your Jones Act
    claim is to ask how much money you will earn returning
    to limited or light duty work following your maritime
    injury. You will then need to compare this amount of
    income with what you were earning offshore or on the
    water.
    How Long Will My Case Take to be
    Resolved?
    Maritime injury cases are not quick, simple cases.
    In a typical “soft tissue” car accident case, a paralegal
    or legal staff member will negotiate a fast settlement of
    a few thousand dollars for you with an insurance company adjuster.
    Your maritime injury case is much more serious and
    complicated. Your case will be handled by attorneys.
    Typically if you have suffered a serious injury, especially injuries which have required surgery, you may be
    seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more.
    Maritime companies and their insurance companies simply do not pay settlements of this amount
    without fully investigating and attempting to fight your
    claim. This process takes at least a few months even for
    smaller claims, and most serious maritime claims can
    take 12 to 14 months to resolve.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    The time period depends greatly upon the court
    where your suit has been filed. Some courts are much
    quicker than others. However, you will usually have an
    idea of the value of your case within a few months of
    filing suit.
    Main Points:
  52. You should not attempt to return to work unless
    you are completely healed.
  53. It is not in your best interest to settle your case on
    your own. Settling on your own could mean that you
    miss out on hundreds of thousands of dollars that are
    rightfully yours.
  54. There is no such thing as a blacklist. We have had
    several clients return to work offshore after their injury. No company should ever ask you if you filed suit in
    the past.
  55. Many times companies will stop “advancements”
    once you hire an attorney. However, there are several
    ways to supplement this lost income.
  56. If the company doctor is refusing to give you proper
    testing, you should seek your own doctor.
  57. Cases can take anywhere from three to 14 months,
    but it all depends on your unique situation.
  58. Your case could be worth hundreds of thousands
    of dollars depending on the facts of your situation.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    Common Me dic a l Te s t s f o r
    Maritime and Of f s h o r e
    I nju ri e s
    Arthroscopic Surgery
    Although arthroscopic surgery is considered a “surgical” procedure, very often it is used to diagnose injuries which may not be visible with other non-invasive
    testing. Typically orthopedics will perform arthroscopic surgery on an individual’s knee and shoulder areas.
    The purpose of this surgery is to not only repair any
    damage which may be seen but to also actually identify
    and visualize damage which may not have appeared on
    prior MRI and CT testing.
    CT Scan
    A CT scan (or CAT scan) is a form of enhanced Xray that can diagnose soft tissue, organ and blood vessel
    type injuries. Very often a CT scan will be performed
    after an MRI scan to further diagnose or investigate
    the individual’s injury. Typically the most helpful CT
    scans are performed “with contrast.” This means that
    the individual will drink (or have IV injected) a type of
    dye before the CT scan is performed. The dye allows
    Part IV: Medical info

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    the CT scan to give a much more accurate, detailed image of the injured area.
    Discogram/Myelogram
    A discogram is a procedure during which dye is
    injected into a person’s cervical or lumbar discs. The
    purpose of the test is to determine if the injected dye
    leaks out or goes beyond the subject disc.
    Discograms can be a very accurate way to determine
    the full extent of a person’s injury. Normally, healthy
    lumbar and cervical discs will hold the small amount of
    dye that is injected. This is because a normal, healthy
    disc is fully enclosed and encapsulated. If a lumbar or
    cervical disc has been injured, very often this will result
    in a tear to the disc. When the small amount of dye is
    injected into the disc, it will immediately leak out thus
    indicating that the disc has a hole or tear in it. A discogram is often followed by a CT scan which will take
    images of the disc and the dye in order to visualize if
    the dye has moved outside of the disc.
    A myelogram is very similar to a discogram in that
    dye typically is injected around the injured lumbar or
    cervical area. A CT scan is then performed to view the
    area and the dye provides an enhanced image of any
    damage to that area.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    EMG/Nerve Conduction Study
    An electromyogram (EMG) is a test that is used to
    record the electrical activity of muscles. When muscles
    are active, they produce an electrical current. Typically
    an EMG is given at the same time as a nerve conduction study. The most common type of nerve conduction study is known as a Nerve Conduction Velocity
    (NCV) test.
    These tests are used to diagnose nerve injuries and
    muscle damage. Very often they will be given to individuals who have suffered lower back injuries or neck
    injuries to diagnose nerve damage which may be occurring into the person’s upper or lower extremities
    (arms or legs). The NCV will measure how quickly and
    completely a person’s arm or leg nerve transfer ‘information’, or how quickly and completely they respond.
    If nerve damage has occurred, very often the response
    will be delayed or incomplete.
    It is very important to note that most EMG/NCV
    tests are not 100 percent accurate. Most physicians will
    admit that the tests have at least a 10 percent margin of
    error. Very often individuals with nerve damage will
    have normal EMG/NCV tests even though they are experiencing nerve damage.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    Epidural Steroid Injections
    Also known as “epidural injections” or “steroid injections”, this treatment is a series of injections typically given in a person’s neck or lower back in an attempt
    to relieve pain from a damaged cervical or lumbar disc.
    Epidural injections can also be given in an individual’s
    shoulder area as well as other parts of the body. Epidural injections are very often described as both therapeutic as well as diagnostic. This means that the injection is given to provide relief to the patient as well as
    potentially diagnose their injury. Most doctors believe
    that if the patient receives temporary relief for a period of days or even a few weeks from the injection, this
    means that the injection was most likely given at the
    source of the injury. In this way, the injection serves as
    a diagnostic tool to help the doctor identify the area of
    injury.
    IDET
    IDET stands for intradiscal electrothermic therapy.
    This procedure is minimally invasive and involves using a heated wire to seal any ruptures in the disc wall
    and to burn nerve endings to reduce the amount of
    pain. It aims to repair bulging discs before herniation.
    MRI
    A magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) is one of

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    the most common tests performed to diagnose most injuries to a neck, back, shoulder or knee. An MRI scan
    shows soft tissue and ligament damage and it provides a
    much greater detailed view than does a CT scan. MRIs
    will diagnose damaged lumbar and cervical discs as well
    as torn ligaments. If you have suffered any type of injury that has bothered you for more than a few days, most
    likely it is best to get an MRI scan performed. Many
    doctors will delay performing an MRI since they may
    not want to charge your company for the expense. It
    is important that you insist that all medical testing be
    performed, including MRIs. With today’s technology
    an MRI should be considered a basic medical test.
    The more traditional MRI is performed in a long
    tube. There is also a more advanced type of MRI
    known as a “stand up” MRI scan. A stand up MRI scan
    is taken while the individual is in a standing position
    (hence the name). Very often this can produce a more
    accurate MRI scan which more accurately reflects any
    type of herniated or damaged lumbar or cervical discs.
    This is because the scan is taken while the individual is
    actually placing weight on their lower back and neck.
    Sympathetic Block
    This type of test is performed as both treatment
    and a diagnostic. A sympathetic block is given to a pa-

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    tient to diagnose nerve damage typically into their lower legs, feet or ankles. The basic purpose of the sympathetic block is to “block” the nerve communication
    from the suspected injury to the person’s brain. If the
    sympathetic block is successful, the person will receive
    relief since the injured part of the body temporarily
    will not communicate with the individual’s brain. This
    result indicates to the doctor that the person is suffering from nerve damage at the point of the injury. If the
    sympathetic block is successful (and very often a series
    of them are performed), the doctor may consider permanently “disconnecting” that nerve such that it will
    no longer send messages of pain to the person’s brain.
    X-ray
    An X-ray is a basic imaging scan of an individual’s
    bones. An X-ray does not show soft tissue or ligament/
    tendon damage nor will it indicate nerve damage. Most
    doctors and health facilities will immediately perform
    an X-ray following an injury.
    It is very important to understand that X-rays will
    not diagnose the majority of serious injuries including
    ligament/tendon damage, nerve damage, lumbar disc
    injuries or joint damage. These types of injuries need
    to be diagnosed with other tests including MRIs, CT
    scans, and nerve conduction studies.

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    I nd e x
    A
    Advances 62
    American Petroleum Institute 21
    B
    Blacklist 61
    C
    Coast Guard 21
    Comparative fault 22, 25, 27, 34,
    35, 36, 45, 47, 49, 55
    Comparative responsibility.
    See Comparative fault
    Cure 54
    D
    Damages 13
    Deposition 48
    F
    Fixed platform 10
    Forum non conveniens 43
    Fringe benefits 40
    G
    General maritime law 10
    J
    Jones Act 13
    L
    Loss of wages 43
    M
    Maintenance 54, 63
    Manpower 20
    Maritime law
    See General maritime law
    N
    Navigable water 10
    Negligence 13
    O
    On-the-job training 20
    OSHA 22
    P
    Pain and suffering 38, 43
    Punitive damages 53, 54, 63
    S
    Safe place to work 18
    Safety 18
    Seaman 14, 22, 25, 27, 34, 35, 36,
    45, 47, 49, 55
    Seaworthy 52
    Soft tissue 63
    Status 12
    T
    Training 19

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    e pilogue
    It had been four weeks since Louis’ accident.
    They had met with a very nice, local lawyer in
    their town a few days after Louis got home. The
    lawyer seemed nice enough, and he had helped
    their neighbor with a family matter years earlier.
    But he just didn’t seem to know anything about
    maritime law or the Jones Act.
    They had looked through the phone book but
    all of the ads were about ‘car accidents’ or ‘medical malpractice.’ The few that did mention maritime claims seemed to include them in a list with
    seven or eight other types of law. How could one
    lawyer be good at divorce cases, criminal cases
    and maritime claims?
    Then Lisa saw an ad for a free book on maritime law and the Jones Act. She ordered it and the
    book arrived the next day. As they flipped through
    the pages, the book answered all of their questions.
    Should Louis give a statement to the insurance company? Did he have to give a statement?
    Could he receive more medical treatment since he
    was still hurting? What rights did he have? The
    book gave them the answer to all these questions,

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    and more.
    They felt so relieved to finally know something
    about his future! Armed with answers to the most
    basic questions regarding his injury and his rights,
    they could now sit down and decide what to do.
    And they could make an educated decision about
    what direction to take their lives.
    This felt good. Things were looking up…
    76
    UNDERSTANDING YOUR OFFSHORE INJURY

    My name is Timothy Young and for more than 20
    years it has been my privilege to help injured offshore
    and maritime workers.
    Something deep inside of me is stirred whenever I
    know that a company is trying to take advantage of an
    honest, hard-working employee who has had a serious
    injury through no fault of his own.
    Most often there is an employer/employee relationship, and to me that makes it all the worse when an employer is twisting the laws or facts to get out of paying
    what it should for the serious damages it caused to one
    of its own employees.
    Most offshore and maritime workers would prefer
    not to file a suit. They would rather go on with their
    careers and turn back the clock to before the accident
    happened. I understand that. But hoping to change the
    past won’t make the future any better.
    What we do is not simply gather evidence and experts to prove our client’s claim in court. That’s just
    the ‘legal’ part of it.
    Why We Practice Maritime
    Law

    TIMOTHY YOUNG
    We also counsel our clients on their options and
    how to map out the best future they can have with the
    cards they were dealt. I can’t think of a more important
    service we offer.
    I often tell juries in closing arguments that they
    have a rare opportunity to help a fellow citizen and directly impact a person’s life for the better. I tell them
    they should not waste that chance. I also feel we have
    that same opportunity with each new client we team up
    with.
    I hope you found this book both helpful and encouraging during your current difficulties. Please phone
    us if you need anything or have any concerns you want
    to talk about.

Leave a Reply