There are many different types of reports that can help you win your Jones Act injury case. We know because we’ve been handling these cases for more than 20 years. Learn about the types of reports that can help your attorneys win cases and how to obtain them.
There are many different types of documents that can help you win your Jones Act injury case. While you may be thinking of formal documents, like insurance claims and police reports, it goes beyond that—including text messages and recorded interviews.
Most companies start these reports following any type of accident on a rig or vessel. Accidents reports can be short or long, but typically they are one or two pages. These reports document the basics of an accident: who got hurt, when, how and if there were any witnesses. Whether they go into what caused an accident depends on the company filing the report. Some do, some don’t.
If an injury occurs on an oil rig or large vessel, medics will typically fill out a report. These reports can be incredibly helpful in your case and are often overlooked. While the report itself will be mostly related to what type of medical treatment you received, many also describe how the accident happened. This description can help with your claim, especially if the vessel captain or safety representative wrote the maritime accident report inaccurately. We recommend you always read your medic records to see if they support your version of the incident more accurately than the accident report.
While some accident reports have a section for witnesses to write down what they saw and understand about the accident, not all do. When these statements are not included in an accident report, companies will have a separate witness statement form, which is completed by any witness to the accident as well as any workers who know important information about the incident. It’s vital to gain access to witness statements when preparing a Jones Act injury case if they exist.
Just like you were probably asked to give a recorded statement after your injury, so were the witnesses to your injury. While the law usually does not require your company to give us these recorded statements because they were “prepared in anticipation of litigation” and therefore are protected, there are ways to get them. These statements can be extremely helpful as they were taken right after your injury when accounts of the incident are most accurate. Unfortunately, most companies are smart enough not to record an unfavorable statement. These days, it can be assumed that if the company has taken a statement it likely helps their case and doesn’t hurt them.
Since these recordings are often hard to obtain, it can be helpful for your attorney to reach out to witnesses from whom the company did not get a statement. We like to speak with these unheard from witnesses first. Even so, you don’t know what’s in the company recorded statements until you see them, so it’s best to review these statements if possible.
Nowadays, your injury and accident was probably discussed in email and text messages. From basic texts sent back and forth between co-workers to formal emails sent from the rig or vessel to shore, it’s important that you look for these in your case. Cases have been won with good emails and text messages that were saved and downloaded.
Don’t overlook documents that are routinely completed on your rig or vessel as a source to support your claim. Often the IADC reports on rigs and the vessel’s logs (get both the rough and smooth logs!) will mention or discuss your injury and accident.
Many companies will have so-called “investigation reports” which they complete in addition to basic accident reports. Investigation reports discuss what went wrong that may have caused your accident and how it can be prevented in the future. These can win or lose your case and you have to really fight to get some of them. Companies will often hide these types of reports if they show the company did something wrong to cause your accident.
Root Cause Analysis reports are very detailed, multiple-page documents which address anything and everything that may have caused your accident. These are similar to basic accident investigation reports, but much, much more detailed. Large companies such as Transocean, Diamond, ENSCO, Schlumberger and others use these reports. In the recent past, we have had to go to court and compel Transocean and Diamond to give us these reports in our cases. The harder they fight to protect these reports, the better the reports are for your claim.
Although it is not a requirement of the Jones Act that injured employees complete an accident report, it is certainly worthwhile to do so. However, your claim is not necessarily in jeopardy if you fail to do so. A Jones Act attorney can help you better understand what kind of Jones Act issues your case entails.
Typically, an injured mariner reports his accident to a supervisor or directly to the employer. In some instances, the employer may delay in advising the injured employee to complete an accident report, often on the hope that the injury will improve during that delayed interim and the employee will forget altogether about filing a report or pursuing a claim.
Just remember, completing an accident report is absolutely not required to file suit and successfully collect damages under the Jones Act. The Jones Act requires only that you prove that you suffered an injury at work for which your employer was responsible. You may prove such without a written report. We have successfully proved accidents by using an employee’s medical records, the testimony of their co-employees, or their own testimony.
Other tools to help you prove your claim without a written report are:
If you or someone you love has been injured while working aboard a Jones Act vessel, you may be entitled to certain maintenance and cure benefits, as well as other compensatory damages if your employer was at fault. Contact our offices or call 504-680-4100 to speak with a Jones Act attorney who can provide you with a free case evaluation and assessment of your Jones Act issues.