(1) TAKE A RECORDED STATEMENT FROM YOU IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOUR ACCIDENT: This is the number one way that your company and its insurance representative will try to ruin your case before you may even know if you have suffered a serious injury. There is absolutely no law or requirement that you provide a tape-recorded statement following your accident and if you do so, you are simply helping your company and its insurance company and, very likely, hurting any type of case that you may have. Very often individuals will not know the full extent of their injury when they provide a tape-recorded statement. These individuals are often hoping that they will keep their jobs and they simply want to “cooperate” with the company by providing a recorded statement. During any recorded statement you will be asked if the company did anything wrong or if there was any way to avoid your accident. You will also be asked if you had ever injured the same part of your body in the past. The company may ask numerous other background information type questions. The answers that you give to all of these questions will be used against you later in your case so you must be very careful to fully explain any negligence on the part of the company and fully explain if you had ever injured the same part of your body in the past, even if you recovered from that previous injury. Recorded statements have ruined serious offshore injury claims more than any other evidence.
(2) IMMEDIATELY SEND YOU TO A DOCTOR OF THEIR CHOICE: This tactic is also used immediately following your accident. Under the law you are absolutely allowed to choose your own choice of treating physician. However, most offshore companies and their insurance representatives will insist that you receive treatment from a doctor that they choose. This can be a critical mistake. Very often the company chosen physician will provide limited treatment and he may refuse to perform basic needed testing. He will then release you to return to work as soon as possible. Once you have returned to work it is very difficult or impossible to receive further medical treatment from another doctor. Your company will often argue that you were able to return to work and therefore you must not need any further medical treatment. It becomes a vicious cycle once you return to work whereby you are refused treatment since you returned to work. Be careful if your company insists that you receive treatment from a doctor that they choose following your injury.
(3) REFUSE TO ALLOW YOU TO CHOOSE YOUR OWN PHYSICIAN FOR TREATMENT: This tactic is very similar to (2) above. Not only will your company select your treating physician following your injury, but most companies flat out refuse to allow you to select your own doctor. Very often this means that you will not have the early, needed medical testing performed that could prove your injury. The longer you delay basic medical testing such as MRIs and CT scans, the harder it will be to relate your injury to your accident. Most companies and their insurance representatives know this and will refuse to allow you to see your own physician because they do not want an independent doctor to perform early medical testing to fully diagnose the nature and extent of your injury.
(4) OBTAIN VIDEO SURVEILLANCE OF YOUR ACTIVITIES: Even though you may insist that “they won’t get me”, your offshore company and its insurance representative will most likely obtain video surveillance of your daily activities. Shockingly, many companies will obtain video on you immediately after your injury occurs, even before you have hired an attorney or even thought about filing suit. Sometimes investigators will actually trespass on your property in order to obtain videotape of your activities.
(5) CATCH YOU IN A MISSTATEMENT ABOUT ANYTHING: When you have suffered a maritime injury and it is likely that you will file a claim against your company, your company will absolutely place you on trial as the defendant during your case. This means that they will question everything that you say and one of their tricks is to catch you in a misstatement. Very often the misstatement will occur when your company takes a recorded statement from you immediately following your accident. If you downplay the nature of your injury in your recorded statement or you do not place blame on co employees for your accident because you may not want to get them in trouble with the company, the company will use this against you later if you change your testimony. Also, even basic misstatements about previous divorces or very minor injuries that you may have suffered in the past will be used against you. Although you may think, “what difference does that make” in regard a trivial answer that you give your company, the simple fact is that the company will use all of the answers and statements that you give to cross-examine you in the future. If you are going to answers questions from the company, it is important that you are completely and fully honest, even if you think the questions are not important or irrelevant.
Look out for maritime employers who tell their employees:
The Jones Act protects maritime workers in the event they’re injured at sea, and it is important to contact a New Orleans Jones Act attorney if you feel your rights have been violated after a maritime accident.
For workers at sea, there are specialized dangers every day. Workers on ships, fishing vessels and oil rigs face unique challenges that are different than those that land-based workers face.
Occasionally, maritime employers will try to limit the compensation you’re entitled to by asking you to sign an arbitration agreement after you’ve been injured. Signing an arbitration agreement could prevent you from allowing a jury to hear your Jones Act claim. The law doesn’t require you to sign one, and it’s a bad idea to enter into an agreement without consulting a New Orleans Jones Act attorney.
It can be tempting to leave your case to your employer and arbitration, especially if there are offers of advances on your wages and promises of medical care. The Jones Act ensures your rights as a maritime worker. When you’re injured at sea, it’s important to ensure that you receive the compensation you’re entitled.