Legal Matters: How Seafarers Should Handle Injury Cases On Site?
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Working as a seafarer is one of the most dangerous jobs. Seafarers are exposed to various risks and perils onboard their vessel at sea. Some seafarers have suffered injuries while working onboard. These injuries range from minor to life-threatening injuries.
If you’re a seafarer who sustained injuries on the job, you might want to consult with experienced Jones Act lawyers to help you navigate the complexities of maritime law. Here are a few pointers on how seafarers should handle injury cases on board.
1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Whenever a seafarer is hurt or injured on board or at sea, the priority is to make sure the injured seafarer is given adequate and immediate medical attention. How a seafarer should handle an injury case on-site depends on many factors, such as the nature of the maritime accident or event that caused the injury and the extent and severity of the seafarer’s injuries on the job.
Here’s the standard safety protocol to follow when a seafarer is injured in a maritime accident or incident:
- Administer first aid to the injured seafarer, or immediately inform the first aid team and the designated medical officer.
- Consult company procedures and international regulations about preparing for a Medivac if the situation requires it.
- File an accident report as soon as possible.
- Ensure the injured person is given prompt medical attention by someone authorized or licensed to do it.
- Ask for a detailed record of the medical examination done on board, various treatments administered, and medications prescribed.
2. Request Copies Of Medical Examination Results
After the injured person is given immediate and adequate medical attention and hopefully steered away from danger, the next primary concern is to request copies of the results of medical tests and examinations given to the patient. If the injured seafarer isn’t strong enough to do this or hasn’t recovered from his injuries, he could ask for help from a colleague to gather and collate these documents.
The maritime accident compensation coverage of seafarers usually varies from one maritime company to another and from one vessel to another. Some common salient points include the classification of the extent and severity of injuries and the increasing amounts of compensation from less severe injuries to more serious and extremely severe injuries.
To prepare for the likelihood of claiming compensation or damages, the injured seafarer should start collating medical proof of the extent of the injuries suffered as a result of the accident. One of the main issues that would be threshed out if the injury case went to trial is the extent and severity of the injuries suffered. As can be expected, the maritime company would try to downplay its liability for maritime accident injuries.
3. Make Sure The Accident Is Adequately Documented
The injured seafarer or any of his buddies on board should start the process of gathering and collating proof of how the maritime accident happened. Whenever a maritime accident happens, it can be expected that the vessel’s management would try to downplay the extent and severity of the injuries suffered by the seafarer. This would prove crucial later on because the extent of the injuries would affect the award of compensation and damages.
The other thing that the vessel management might try to diminish is the extent of their liability. Under the Jones Act, a seafarer has the right to pursue legal action against the employer for negligence.
The injured seafarer can also sue the owner of the vessel if the issue involves the doctrine of seaworthiness of the ship. Third, the injured seafarer is entitled to receive compensation for maintenance and cure regardless of who is at fault for the injuries he sustained.
To help prepare the claim and build the injury case if it becomes necessary to sue later on, the injured seafarer should gather adequate evidence to support his claim. The vessel management can be expected to assert that they exercised the duty of care expected of them. Furthermore, they could claim that the cause of the accident was something that they couldn’t have foreseen even with the best of care and prudence that they’ve always observed on board.
A seafarer has the right under the Jones Act to pursue legal action against the vessel management or the owners of the vessel. But the seafarer should observe and follow specific procedures if he suffers injuries onboard the vessel. Among other things, it’s essential for the seafarer to gather evidence to prove the extent and severity of his injuries when he files a claim for damages.