No, you do not need to file a claim before seeking medical treatment. Your first priority is always your health. If injured on the job, take care of your medical needs immediately; filing a Jones Act claim or other maritime claim post-treatment does not bar you from eligibility for benefits.
In fact, it doesn’t make much sense to file a claim before seeking care because you have yet to discover the extent of or prognosis for your injury. Worry about legal matters after you’ve seen the doctor.
Whether you go to the onboard medical staff or you’re transported back to the U.S. or an international port, seek medical care as soon as the injury occurs. This serves a couple of purposes; obviously, the first of which is to prevent your condition from worsening.
Secondly, if and when you do file a claim, your visit to the doctor or hospital can help support your claim. If you delay seeking medical treatment, your employer or its insurance company might make an argument that your injury wasn’t work-related and may try to deny your claim.
Your trip to the doctor can also provide an account of the accident. Many doctors and hospitals will ask you how the injury occurred and notate your answer on your medical records. Still, be sure to report the accident and injury to your employer.
It’s important to understand that seamen are guaranteed certain rights. Maintenance and cure benefits, which are akin to workers’ compensation for land-based workers, are your right if you were injured on the job, regardless of who was at fault for you injury.
This means your employer (through its insurance company) is legally responsible for medical bills related to your injury. Additional benefits may also be obtainable through other maritime legal remedies, such as by filing:
Your employer may try to convince you to use your own health insurance plan to pay for your medical bills. But not only are work-related injuries not covered under most normal health insurance plans, but if you do submit outstanding claims to your insurance company, they will expect reimbursement should you be awarded a settlement in some type of liability claim.
When you do go visit the doctor after being injured at sea, you should know that you have the right to choose your own doctor. Employers sometimes try to usher their workers to company doctors who may be looking out for the employer’s rather than the employee’s best interests. Some company doctors might downplay your injury in order to get you back on the job as soon as possible to save the company money.
If you sustain an injury, visit a doctor of your choosing. If your employer tries to deny your right to benefits or your right to select a physician, contact a lawyer immediately.
Contact The Young Firm to speak with an attorney today. Call us at 866-703-2590 FREE to schedule a free legal consultation.