As a maritime worker, you have rights under the Jones Act to file a claim and recover compensation for any damages and injuries you sustained. Before you begin filing your claim, it’s best to complete your medical treatment for your injuries as much as possible.
While your employer can recommend that you see a doctor of their choosing, the choice is yours to make. Your employer can’t force or coerce you into seeing the company doctor. In most cases, it’s best to see a doctor of your choice instead of a doctor picked by your employer.
Seeking Compensation With a Jones Act Claim
Offshore work provides unique opportunities for thousands of U.S. citizens. Unfortunately, this kind of work also comes with special risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), maritime injuries account for nearly twice the number of general U.S. worker injuries.
Unlike other professions, sailors and other maritime workers are typically not covered by workers’ compensation. Offshore workers can instead take legal action against a negligent employer for work-related injuries by filing a Jones Act claim. Surviving family members of a fatally wounded worker can also file a claim on their behalf.
Filing a Jones Act claim could allow you to be compensated for:
- Emergency room treatment
- Doctor’s visits
- Physical therapy
- Prescription drugs
- Medical devices
- In-home care
- Lost wages while you heal
Additionally, injured maritime workers may also be compensated for non-economic losses such as mental anguish.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 537-8185
Do I Have a Right to See the Doctor of My Choice?
Under the Jones Act, you have a right to choose your own doctor. The medical care you receive is essential to your recuperation. Choose a doctor you trust will help you.
Even if you have already been to the company doctor, you may visit a different doctor to get a second opinion. If your preferred doctor does not agree with the company doctor, you can follow your doctor’s treatment plan.
Why Is It Risky to See a Company Doctor?
Even though it may seem convenient, seeing a company doctor isn’t without its risks. It’s not that the doctors themselves are low quality, but more so that a company doctor has other interests outside of just your wellbeing. It’s well known that company doctors:
- Can try to undermine and downplay the injuries you’ve sustained
- Push you to return to work before your injuries get completely healed
- May only offer minimal treatment for your injuries
- Provide your medical information to your employer
- Refuse to allow you to see any other doctor or specialist
- Push you towards company-employed medical staff or caseworkers
- Make you travel absurd distances just to get further medical treatment or physical therapy
- Ask you to sign a release allowing your employer to speak with your doctor without you present
In essence, a company doctor works for your company, not for you. Your employer may be altruistic and genuinely want to help you, but this isn’t the case in most situations. Their goal is to try and get you working while also paying you the bare minimum for your damages.
It’s your choice whether or not to see your company doctor. However, remember that your company doctor will most likely not be on your side in your fight for a fair settlement. Always remember these risks when deciding who to go to for medical treatment.
What If My Company Is Pressuring Me to See Their Doctor?
Even though your company can recommend a doctor to you, they can’t pressure you by:
- Threatening to fire you
- Threatening to reduce your pay significantly
- Constantly harassing you to convince you to forego legal representation
Maritime law is absolutely clear. You don’t have to use the company doctor, and they can’t retaliate against you for exercising your rights. If your company is pressuring you to go to their doctor, you need to speak with a lawyer to learn about the legal options available for your case.
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Get Medical Treatment Before the Statute of Limitations Expires
46 U.S. Code § 30106 under the Jones Act provides maritime workers only three years to file a claim. Three years seems like ample amounts of time to get started, but don’t take it lightly. Unfortunately, many people squander the time they have and end up losing out on significant portions of their claims.
Getting treatment for your injuries is essential when filing a claim. It proves that your injuries are serious and that the resulting damages from them are genuine. Unfortunately, seeing a company doctor may stall or undermine the medical process and hinder your chances of getting compensated.
Should I Accept My Company’s Settlement Offer?
If your company offers you complete coverage on medical treatment plus a fast cash settlement, it may be enticing to take them up on that offer. While there are instances where this offer is optimal, you shouldn’t just blindly accept their deal.
Before you sign or verbally agree to anything, it’s best to consult with an attorney. You need to remember that your company is a business, and businesses are primarily interested in protecting themselves and saving money. Whatever deal they’re offering you is probably not out of the goodness of their hearts.
The offshore injury attorneys at Morris Bart can help you understand your rights under the Jones Act. We won’t let you accept a deal that cheats you out of a settlement that properly reflects the injuries and damages you sustained.
What Can I Do if I’m Stuck in My Jones Act Claim?
If your employer pressures you to use their doctor, you may feel stuck in your claim. When you feel like you don’t know where to proceed with your claim, it’s best to reach out to an attorney as soon as you can.
An attorney can help you in several different ways, including:
- Helping you locate unbiased and quality medical care
- Filing all your paperwork on time and correctly
- Providing expert legal advice and representing you during negotiations or at court
- Helping you gather up all your evidence and building a strong case for your claim
Offshore injury and Jones Act attorneys can help you fight back against your employer, the insurance company, and any other party that gets in the way of your settlement.
Speak to an Experienced Offshore Injury Lawyer Today
Don’t feel forced to use a company doctor when filing a Jones Act claim. The offshore injury lawyers here at Morris Bart, LLC are ready to assist you during this challenging time. To get your free consultation, you can contact us 24/7 online or over the phone to schedule an appointment.
Questions?Call (800) 537-8185
to find a Morris Bart office near you.