What Does It Cost To Hire A Maritime Injury Lawyer?
There are zero up-front costs to hiring us if you have been hurt working offshore. We will handle your case on what is known as a “contingency basis,” meaning that our fee is tied directly to the success of your case. Once a settlement is achieved or judgment is made, we receive a percentage of the total amount of recovery depending on how and when your case was settled or how the judgment was achieved.
I’m badly injured. Can my family hire you on my behalf?
Yes. If you are hurt and are still offshore, a close family member who can contact us and hire us on your behalf as long as the proper paperwork is in place.
Can I afford a maritime attorney?
While I wish it were true that those who have negligently cause injury to others generally pay the rightful amount of a claim to the injured party the first time, the fact of the matter is that they don’t. There are certain laws, procedures and methods that we utilize to place the opposing party in a position where they realize that compensation is due and just based on the facts and the application of the law. While it is not always successful, it is our responsibility to give them the opportunity to do so. We negotiate on behalf of injured individuals with adjusters and counsel on a consistent basis and have been successful at doing so in many cases. That experience, coupled with legal knowledge, places us in a position where we can provide a proper analysis to your claim to ensure that you are receiving compensation that is fair.
If I qualify, how do I get medical benefits?
The seaman’s employer has a duty to promptly pay maintenance, but cure is generally paid once the seaman reaches Maximum Medical Cure (MMC) or Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMC/MMI is the point at which the seaman’s condition is stable and he or she is no longer receiving medical treatment that could improve their condition i.e. “curative medical treatment.” Treatment is considered “curative” if there is potential for the treatment to improve the seaman’s condition, as opposed to just treating the symptoms associated with it. It is at this point when curative medical treatment ceases is when entitlement to maintenance and cure ends. Other methods of obtaining medical benefits is to apply for short-term and long-term disability immediately following your injury. Although many short-term disability policies do not cover work-related injuries, almost all long-term disability policies do.
What type of benefits am I entitled to as an injured seaman?
Typically an injured seaman is entitled to maintenance and cure. You could also be entitled to your past and future medical damages up to age 65. If you cannot return to work due to your injury, your employer is responsible for maintenance and cure until you reach maximum cure. If your injury is catastrophic in nature, your employer could be liable for loss of earning capacity as well as your entire life care plan, i.e. everything that you’ll need for the rest of your life that stems from that injury. For example, if an seaman is confined to a wheelchair due to an injury, the entire cost of restructuring their home to make it handicap accessible could be included in their damages.
What if my employer is refusing to pay me maintenance and cure?
The three remedies available to seamen who have been wrongfully denied maintenance and cure by their employer are compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees.
Below are some examples of ship-owner conduct that have supported the award of such remedies:
- Because the seaman filed suit
- Rejecting a documented claim because the seaman did not consult with the owner before treatment
- failing to conduct any investigation at all before denying a seaman’s claim;
- withholding payment despite discovering through investigation that payment was due;
- withholding payment on a pretextual basis i.e. false pretenses.
What if a contract exists that stipulates the rate for maintenance with my employer?
Generally, the only legally enforceable contractually agreed maintenance rate is one that is set by a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement. Otherwise a rate set by any other type of contract is generally unenforceable. If the rate of maintenance provided in your employment contract falls short of the rate required to cover the full cost of your room and board (groceries, rent, utilities, etc.), then you will more than likely be entitled to recover the difference from your employer.
Can I recover benefits if I got injured during a recreational activity?
This is a fact-intensive question that turns on whether there was any negligence on behalf of the company intertwined with the recreational activity. If a seaman is injured on board a foreign flagged vessel that is a U.S. company, you are still a Jones Act seaman the same as if it were a U.S. flagged vessel. Whether or not you can recover benefits, however, would require a different analysis. Generally, when a seaman is injured while on liberty from the vessel in a foreign port, the shipowner is still liable for the maintenance and cure of the seaman.
Issues concerning seaman on board foreign flagged vessels working for a foreign company become much more complex. Call and provide us with the details associated with your injury and allow us to investigate whether you could be due compensation for your offshore injury.
I need financial assistance now. How long will it take to recover benefits?
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