Jones Act Injuries – What to Expect
Jones Act injuries like any other injury will cause pain, which you must report to your supervisor. The biggest mistake a worker can make is to minimize their pain or saying that “it’s nothing” or something similar. Your company expects you tell the truth especially since a lie about your pain can lead to inadequate medical attention and turn into more serious Jones Act injuries that will cost the company even more. If your company finds out that you lied about your pain they have good reason to fire you. When something inside of your head starts telling you to “dust yourself off” and go back to work without reporting your accident or your pain, you need to remember that you have a duty to your employer to report your injury and to tell the truth. Your company is required by law and by their insurance carriers to report all Jones Act injuries and they will suffer the consequences if you do not immediately and truthfully report your injury.
After you have reported your injury most companies want you to be examined by a doctor and Jones Act law requires that you be given proper medical attention. However, some employers will not allow you to be examined by a doctor. That’s when you call an attorney who can force your employer to allow you off the boat or rig to be examined by a doctor for your Jones Act injuries.
Expect your employer to want you to see a doctor of their choice. Employers want you to go to a doctor over which they have some control. Most employers want a doctor is very conservative who will give you a pill and put you back to work. This may exacerbate your Jones Act injuries and cause your them to become more serious. Your injury may not be one that requires surgery but failure to get proper medical care may turn it into one that requires surgery.
You have a right under the Jones Act to choose your own doctor. Workers need to exercise great caution in choosing their doctor because they may get stuck with a doctor that they really know nothing about. It is wiser to consult with an attorney before choosing a doctor.
Your employer will probably want you to make a report, sign a statement, give a recorded statement or have a court reporter swear you in and type down what you say for you to sign afterwards. You have no duty to do anything but make an oral report and it is usually unwise to sign anything or allow them to record your statement. You should consult with an attorney prior to making these types of decisions.
You should expect a bad result if you do not get legal help from a reputable Jones Act law firm. Workers must realize that the Jones Act is complex and negotiation is both an art and a science that requires a good lawyer. There is never a good reason not to talk to a lawyer and many good men have learned this lesson too late, after they have spent the money they were given and then face the rest of their lives without the ability to continue maritime work and without money.