What’s My Case Worth?
Every case is different because no two individuals are the same and no two sets of facts are ever the same. Case value can fluctuate over the course of the discovery process, which is the pre-trial procedure governed by the law of civil procedure where each party to a lawsuit obtains evidence by means of discovery devices such as interrogatories, requests for production, and depositions of witnesses, corporate representatives, etc. Ultimately, depending on the proceedings, the judge or the jury will decide the value of your case at trial.
Will I be able to recover money even if I am partly at fault?
It depends what portion of liability is attributed to you for the injury-causing incident. Maritime law allows for what is called comparative fault against the injured individual who is bringing the lawsuit (plaintiff) against the defendant(s). In other words, the total amount of damages you would otherwise be entitled to as the plaintiff can be reduced by the percentage of liability that a jury determines should be apportioned for you for causing your own injury under a “reasonable” person standard. Simply stated, the “reasonable” person standard is what the ordinary, prudent and reasonable person in your position would have done under the same conditions and in the same circumstance you were in before the injury occurred. This is the most common standard used throughout the United States.
It is inevitable that the defendant(s) will attempt to prove that you were at least to some degree responsible for your own accident. If the jury or judge agrees, your damages will be reduced by the amount of your own negligence. Let’s just say, for illustration purposes only, that the damages in your case total $1 million dollars. However, it is determined that based on the facts, you were 25% negligent, liable, or responsible for your own injury. The plaintiff’s portion of liability would be deducted from the total amount damages he or she is eligible to receive. In this example, 25% of $1,000,000.00 is $250,000.00, and thus the plaintiff’s award would be $750,000.00.
This is why it is critical for an attorney to ensure that all parties with any potential liability are identified in the lawsuit. Sometimes additional defendants are revealed through the discovery process. While the original petition can be amended to name additional defendant(s), if the statute of limitations (SOL) has passed, then you may be barred from adding defendants. This is another reason why it is crucial that you begin the process of communicating with an attorney as soon as possible. The time requirements for adding defendants is rigid and strict.
Will I have to go to court?
The Jones Act provides seamen with a right to trial by jury, but every case does not end in trial. As a matter of fact, most cases do not end in a trial by jury. While trial is always a possibility, cases can also settle at mediation, negating the need for a jury trial. It is always your choice whether to accept an offer that has been presented to you, and we pride ourselves on communicating offers to our clients.
Do I need a lawyer to obtain fair compensation?
While I wish it were true that those who have negligently caused 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.
What kind of a lawyer should I hire?
An offshore worker is a beyond average employee. As such, the offshore worker needs a beyond average attorney. One who not only has a significant amount of education in Maritime Law, but one who can identify firsthand with the daily rigors and difficulties you work through and the sacrifices you make for the life you’ve earned for yourself and those you love. An attorney who has experienced the call from dispatch telling you you’ve got to come on hitch a few days early – or stay a few days late. The attorney who has taken that helicopter ride hundreds of miles offshore and went on tour from 1800 until 0600. An attorney who has crossed the equator multiple times, sailed from San Francisco to Houston (the long way) on his first sea voyage, stood watch, docked vessels, rowed a lifeboat (with paddles), chartered vessels carrying cargo around the world, and performed safety inspections on numerous types of vessel safety equipment.
David McNeal has put steel-toe boots on deck sailing around the world on U.S. Flag vessels, as a mate licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard on New York City Department of Transportation Staten Island Ferry Boats, and has both Offshore Supply Vessel (OSV) and Ultra Deepwater drilling rig work experience in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. While working offshore, David was one of the shipboard officers responsible for inspecting and maintaining certain safety aspects of the vessel as mandated by numerous regulatory agencies. That very real experience allows him to have an intricate understanding of the very real dangers that exist within the offshore work environment and how they can occur.
David graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and Tulane University Law School in New Orleans – world-renown for its maritime law curriculum. Along with his Juris Doctor and Certificate of Specialization in Maritime Law, he also received Trial Advocacy Honors.
After gaining a profound respect for those who live and work in the offshore environment, he sought to become an attorney who could be relied upon by those who make up the backbone of the industry in the unfortunate case of a work-related injury or illness.
The McNeal Law Group recognizes the value and impact that the work performed by those in the oilfield and offshore has on our local and national economy and understands the stress it brings upon both the workers and their families. David McNeal has the experience, the education, and legal knowledge to strategically navigate through the critical issues in your case. Last but not least, he wants to do what it takes to win.
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