As an injured maritime worker your life is very different now than it was before your injury. You are concerned about your future with your company and your career working offshore or on the water, and you probably have lots of questions:
Will the company run me off now that I have been injured?
How long does the company have to pay for my medical treatment?
What if other companies won’t hire me now that I have an injury?
Should I try to return to work?
Can I file a claim if I didn’t fill out an accident report?
Should I file a claim in court?
How long would my claim take in court?
But those are just questions that need answers; they don’t describe how you may be feeling. You used to be sure of your future and you could see where you would be in the next few years. Now everything is uncertain.
You really are not alone in what you are going through
My father and I have worked with injured maritime workers for more than 60 years. People just like you from Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and south Louisiana have let us into their lives so we could help them. We’ve gotten to know hundreds of guys injured on oil rigs, vessels, tug boats, barges, and elsewhere and have walked them through one of the worst times of their lives. Some were OIMs or captains who had been offshore for more than 20 years, while others were just starting their careers as roustabouts or deckhands.
You probably have a lot of the exact same concerns and worries they had when they were injured. Frustration, uncertainty, worry and fear are now probably a daily part of your life. These are really scary emotions that you are now facing because of your injury. You can read a letter I send to all our clients about those worries here. It may help you to know that even though at first they felt lost and alone, things did get a lot better for them. Listen to these clients as they talk about how things are back on track for them.
It’s not ONLY about the money
Sure, you need to worry about your financial future and that’s a big part of why you may hire an attorney in the first place. And we’ve handled our share of big cases in the past. But I also know that people just like you have told us what they valued in our relationship with them. While it may include the money we have recovered for them, it’s also always other things that we helped them through.
It’s also about getting your life back on track, getting you the medical care you need, and fixing things that can be fixed.
"I never thought I would be put in a situation like this. That's all I wanted to do was get myself better so I can get back to work. At this point in time it wasn't happening. I was only getting worse instead of better. I didn't want to ever be in a lawyer's office, and I never thought that I would have to ever go to a lawyer's office. But anyway, needless to say I did come [to Tim] who was very honest. I felt like this was gonna be all legit from the beginning, and I felt that in a trustful way that [he] would get me to where I needed to be at with this situation that I was in and [he] did."
--Jimmy (Read Jimmy’s full story)
"I didn't really want to sue. All I wanted was my hospitalization paid and everything. And [the company] wouldn't even budge on nothing, so I didn't have no choice but to hire an attorney. So, that's when I seen The Young Firm and I called. The Young firm prepared me for everything. I didn't have no surprises, you know. Everything went smooth."
–Collins (Read Collins’ full story)
"After the initial visit that I had with The Young Firm, with Timothy Young, I felt better. I felt more at ease, and I just felt in my heart that I had picked the right company to represent me. [But] in the beginning, I did fear about certain companies not wanting to hire me because of my back injury. But I kept the faith and I just believed that one day I would be back out there doing what I love to do. And here I am: I'm back almost a year now."
–Joshua (Read Joshua’s full story)
“But I am not the suing kind”
For more than 20 years I have listened to honest, hardworking men express guilt over having to consider filing a claim against their company. Some of our nicest, most family-oriented clients start our first conversation with them with, “I am not the suing kind.” This is a real emotion and something that has come about because too many silly lawsuits are filed in court today. You may feel that you will be judged if you have to go into court to protect yourself and your future. But I think you are throwing your situation in with all those other suits, and I think you are being too hard on yourself.
You’re not here because you want to be, you’re here because of something bad that happened to you and you just want things to get better. You’re not looking for a reward out of all this, just what’s fair. I often tell juries that if my client could go back to the way things were before his accident, he would in a second. Getting injured offshore isn’t an opportunity for you like some people see slipping and falling in a grocery store. Your situation really is different.
Should you file your claim in court?
Sometimes you may not need to file a claim in court after your maritime injury. It really depends on your situation. Each month we tell many injured workers who call us that they are better off not filing a claim. But if your injury is serious, often you have no choice but to file a claim in court.
I suggest you consider a few things about your situation.
First, maritime and Jones Act claims usually involve very large amounts of money at stake. If you cannot return to work offshore or on a vessel, you will likely make significantly less money on land than you did on the water or offshore. And if you are thinking of talking to an attorney after your offshore or vessel injury, chances are your injury is pretty serious.
When people purchase a home, they normally use a professional real estate agent because a lot of money is involved and there are tricky laws. You want to make sure you get a fair deal with the house and all the paperwork is done correctly. A claim involving your future wages and medical expenses is no different. It will involve tricky laws and important paperwork. You want to have a professional on your side reviewing everything and discussing your best plan to go forward.
Also, unfortunately nowadays the only way you can get important documents from your company is by filing a claim in court. Once a court case is opened, you can then make the company hand over documents that may prove your case for you and show what went wrong during your accident. Many of our clients are surprised to learn about how a job was changed after their accident, and we never would have discovered this if we couldn’t have made the company hand over important documents. And if your company ever stops paying for medical treatment or refuses to do what they should, you can then go before the judge and make the company follow the law. Until you file a claim in court, you can’t do any of this.
Finally, most serious maritime claims are only settled or compromised as a trial date approaches. I often ask my clients if they ever pay their monthly bills before they are due. Do you ever mail in your check for the electric bill or rent bill a few months ahead of time? Of course not. Why would a large insurance company ever write you a settlement check months and months before they even have a court date? Or if your claim is not even filed in court yet, why would they even think of paying a fair amount to you for what you have been through.
In the end, the hesitation to file a serious claim in court is usually based on your emotions about other lawsuits. I assure you that the court system does work and it is there to handle large, serious issues that involve a significant amount of money and complicated laws.
Who’s looking out for you?
Your company has handled a lot of injured worker claims in the past. They may even have a large department called ‘claims’ or a ‘claims manager’ who is keeping an eye on your situation. Or they may have hired an outside ‘adjustor’ to protect them and handle your claim. Your company knows maritime laws and the Jones Act and chances are they have been to court before.
The guys you worked with on the rig or boat are not the ones making the decisions about your future. The guys you think of as family won’t decide if they should offer you a fair settlement or not. If they did, no one would ever need to hire an attorney after an offshore injury.
Rather, it’s normally an insurance company that pays a serious claim, and these insurance companies don’t like to pay more than they have to. They are in the business of money and saving money, not paying you a fair amount for what you have been through and what you need for your future.
Why I do what I do
Some lawyers love to list all the money they have collected over the years. Large dollar amounts flash across their websites. When I read their websites, I am happy for these lawyers. They seem to have a ‘successful’ practice. We have also collected large verdicts and settlements for our clients. And we have been recognized for our work and our knowledge of maritime law and the Jones Act. You can read more about me personally here.
But what makes me do this work day in and day out, each day of the week, and only this work, is the real meaning of the work. As an injured maritime worker, your decision to file a claim against your company will mean that your job with the company comes to an end. This is extremely hard for you and your family. I understand that and it makes your case so important. While the money collected in your case is certainly very important, and it often needs to last for years and years into the future, sometimes it is not the main thing you may be worried about. Many of our clients want to make sure they get medically fixed as best as possible. They want to have money to pay their bills while their claim is moving forward and not lose everything they have worked for. They want to end up with enough money to be retrained and get a job on land paying the same amount they earned offshore.
You are not a dollar amount collected at the end of a case—your concerns and problems are part of your life and you need help working through them.
Should you choose a firm that handles only maritime cases?
Many lawyers say they handle maritime cases. Some of these lawyers will then refer your case out to attorneys like us who regularly handle maritime and Jones Act cases. If you hire one of these lawyers, you just need to realize that they won’t be the ones actually doing much on your case. We get referred maritime cases regularly from many of these local lawyers who know our clients from their hometowns. These are great lawyers, but they don’t actually handle maritime cases.
Then there are the law firms that do handle maritime cases but they also handle lots of other types of cases. Some of the attorneys also do large class action lawsuits and sit on the committees of these class actions. Or they like the celebrity type cases that they can write about. A bad truck accident that made the local news or some other horrible accident that is all over the internet. They write about these cases and make these cases the focus of their practice. While some of the cases we have handled read like fiction thrillers and should be made into movies, that’s not important to us or to you. (Here’s a shocking one.)
When you hire an attorney for your maritime or Jones Act case make sure you are the center of your case. We made a decision to only handle maritime and Jones Act cases so that we could focus on being the best we could for our maritime clients. You guys were the ones we enjoyed helping the most so we limited our practice to your type of case. No matter how good an attorney is, he can only cover so much ground. Make sure you and your type of case is the focus of his efforts.
Your next step
I want to make you a guarantee. I invite you to download some of our free books to learn more about your possible future. Take the journey with us and our former clients and learn what we have learned. These books will help you see the big picture of where you are now and what you can do about it.
Or, if much of what you have read above sounds like where you are now, you should contact us immediately. The stakes are high for you and a small mistake now may cost you a lot in the future.
If you take the time to read some of our books or meet with us in person to discuss your situation, I guarantee you will feel much better about your future.