You will likely not have to go to court for your maritime injury lawsuit. Most do not go to trial. Instead, they settle before filing a lawsuit or during pretrial. Only a minority of cases go to trial – usually when the injured party and their employer or another liable party cannot resolve issues about liability or reach a fair value in the case. When this happens, the injured seaman can ask a judge and jury to rule on the matter.
Many injured workers wonder if they will have to go to court for their maritime injury claim. This uncertainty can cause unnecessary stress and worry. However, it is a good idea to prepare to go to court if you cannot get adequate compensation otherwise. You deserve justice, which is not always possible through an out-of-court agreement.
Most Maritime Injury Cases Begin with an Insurance Claim
Maritime injury cases generally start when the worker tries to recover a settlement by filing an insurance claim. You can file a claim against the negligent party’s liability insurance policy. This option is the simplest and quickest for legal recourse and to recover damages in most cases.
However, the insurer may not provide the maritime worker with a reasonable and adequate settlement offer. The worker will need to provide evidence and support for their claim and have a good idea of the value of their damages.
Even with solid evidence, convincing the insurance company that you deserve fair payment for your injuries, expenses, and other damages is not easy. The insurance representative will try to protect the company’s bottom line. If you cannot get a good settlement, you may need to sue the liable party.
Why do People Sue in Maritime Injury Claims?
There are three general circumstances why injured workers decide to sue and take their case to trial:
- The insurance company will not negotiate in good faith.
- The negligent party refuses to accept liability for the injuries.
- The at-fault party or their insurer blame the victim for the accident.
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The Maritime Laws that May Apply to Your Case
There are several laws and bodies of law that may apply to a maritime injury case. These laws that protect maritime workers allow them to recover compensation after an offshore injury:
- The Jones Act: 46 U.S.C. § 30104
- The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
- General maritime law
Recoverable Damages in a Maritime Injury Lawsuit
The recoverable damages in your case depend on the applicable laws. You have a right to maintenance and cure under any of these laws, regardless of who is to blame. These damages include medical treatment costs and an income allowance until you return to work or reach maximum medical improvement.
Under the Jones Act, qualifying seamen can seek these expanded damages:
- Medical treatment
- Lost wages, including future lost income
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Other intangible losses
You will need to document your injury-related expenses and keep all bills and receipts to seek and secure a fair payout in your case.
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How a Maritime Law Attorney Can Help with Your Claim
You may want to consider working with a maritime injury attorney to help you negotiate an out-of-court settlement or represent you if your case goes to trial. If you opt to hire legal representation, your lawyer will:
- Identify the liable party.
- Investigate the accident and gather proof to support your claim.
- Explain the maritime laws that apply to your case.
- Seek a fair settlement on your behalf.
- Answer your questions and address any concerns.
- Prepare all paperwork.
- Meet any deadlines.
- Take your case to trial if necessary.
Many cases do not require the injured worker to sue. However, some do, but even then, the case will not necessarily go to a jury trial. Suing is simply the first step toward getting the trial on the court’s docket.
When it comes to a Jones Act claim, 46 U.S.C. § 30106 gives you only three years to sue the negligent party. Exceptions may give you even less time. In addition, there may be shorter statutes of limitations on other types of claims. Therefore, you’ll want to begin building your case as soon as possible.
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Morris Bart, LLC Offers Free Consultations to Injured Maritime Workers
At the Morris Bart law firm, our team of attorneys provides free case reviews to workers who suffered an injury on a seafaring vessel. We can explain your rights and the applicable laws. We are a contingency-fee law firm. We have locations across the Gulf South to serve you, including our main office in New Orleans.
Call (800) 537-8185 today to discuss your case with our team. We are here to help you get started today.
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