When you or your spouse have been injured offshore, it may be difficult to figure out how all the bills are going to get paid. If your company isn’t covering all of your medical expenses and cost of living as they should, then you may have no choice but to use the laws in place to provide for you and your family. If you decide to go this route, you will eventually need to hire an attorney and file a claim in order to get the compensation you’re entitled to. Under the Jones Act you are entitled to collect any damages which are directly related to your accident.
What are Damages?
Damages are just a legal term for money that is awarded through a court process to an injured worker who has been hurt through the negligent or wrongful actions of someone else.
Typically these damages will include
- pain and suffering (physical or emotional stress caused by your injury)
- medical expenses (doctors’ visits, surgeries, rehab, etc)
- loss of wages (the income you would have earned if you were not injured)
- loss of fringe benefits (meals provided to the employee while working, retirement benefits, health insurance, disability insurance, etc.)
Each of these damages can be collected for both past and future pain or expenses you incur. This means that if you paid $5000 for a surgery two months ago and also have to pay $10,000 for a surgery two years from now, you could collect money for both the past and future surgery. The same applies to pain and suffering and the wages that you lost out on due to your injury.
How Are Damages Collected?
The damages allowed for pain and suffering depend greatly upon the nature of your injury. You will be allowed to collect damages for both past as well as future pain and suffering ONLY if you prove these damages at trial. We prove that you need these damages by:
- Collecting Testimonies from Friends and Family. Your, your spouse’s, and/or friend’s testimony will be important to show how the injury has affected your quality of life. This is necessary in order to prove the court that you have suffered because of your injury.
- Relying on Your Doctor’s Expertise. The medical reports from your treating doctors will be very important for your future pain and suffering damages.Your physicians can testify as to whether or not your condition will improve or worsen in the future. Judges and juries are allowed to estimate the amount and type of pain and suffering that you will most likely experience in the future, and under the Jones Act they are allowed to award money damages for this suffering even though it has not occurred.
- Working with Job Experts. Our office works with experienced economists (job experts) who will calculate the exact value of your past and future loss of wages and fringe benefits. In almost all cases, an expert economist is required to predict future loss of wages. Most courts WILL NOT allow you to collect loss of future wages and future fringe benefits unless an expert economist has made these calculations for the jury.
- Gathering Important Documents. Our office will obtain all of your pay records including the value of your fringe benefits and use this information to calculate the true value of your past and future economic losses, including loss of fringe benefits. Sometimes your loss of fringe benefits can amount to almost as much as your loss of actual wages.
What Should You Do Next?
- If you’re not ready to make a decision yet, you can request free informational materials to continue educating yourself.
- If you want to stop worrying and let us guide you through this tough time, you can call us directly at 504-680-4100 or toll free at (866) 938-6113.