There is no clear-cut formula for calculating the value of a Jones Act claim. Available damages will depend on a number of factors, including medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses and losses.
Settlement value is determined during negotiations between the parties involved. A judge or jury will be responsible for calculating the value if the parties cannot resolve the case in negotiation and it progresses to trial. An attorney can help provide an estimated value of the claim but cannot guarantee an outcome or verdict.
Below are four factors an attorney might use when estimating the value of a Jones Act claim.
Injured seamen are entitled to collect lost income that is a result of the injury. This includes both past and future earnings.
Fringe benefits also are included in this category which can include things like:
The Jones Act allows injured workers to make claims for wages they would have earned had it not been for their accidents. This includes standardized pay raises like cost of living increases and promotions.
This is most relevant for long-time employees and those who have established a history of raises and career progression. A comprehensive claim will factor in all lost income, and not just what is included in a weekly paycheck.
Typically speaking, an employer will already have covered past medical expenses. A Jones Act claim cannot seek reimbursement for expenses already addressed. However, a fair claim will seek to cover future medical expenses and any past expenses the employer refused to pay.
An injured worker can only recover future medical costs if he or she is able to prove the employer was at fault for the accident and injury. It also is necessary to prove that future medical costs are a probability not something that “might” occur.
Damages may be available to address the physical and emotional repercussions of disfigurement like:
An injured maritime worker may be able to collect damages for pain and suffering. This category of damages is based on how the injury has impacted the worker’s life.
A doctor’s testimony is critical in proving these damages. Other witnesses may include friends or a spouse, anyone who can reasonably attest to the impact of the injuries on the worker’s life. A claim can address both past and future pain and suffering.
A maritime injury while working at an offshore site can be costly at first. You’ll be accumulating doctor bills for the immediate treatment and recovery from your injuries. Losses will also occur for the time you are unable to work, and you may need additional support like special medical equipment or assistance following your accident.
These are all the initial expenses and losses you may face after a serious maritime accident, but they’re not the only expenses. Depending on the nature of your injury and your long-term prognosis, you could face many other expenses and losses down the road. A few examples include:
All of these potential issues that may arise in the future will cost you as well, and your Jones Act injury claim settlement amount needs to reflect these potential future expenses.
By working with a Jones Act injury attorney who has experience with several past claim settlements, you can get a true estimated value of your claim. This will help you when it comes time to negotiate the settlement with your insurance company, as it can save you from accepting too low of an offer. If this happens, your attorney may be able to help you negotiate a larger settlement through a Jones Act lawsuit.
An attorney may work with a number of expert witnesses and other professionals in the course of calculating a fair value for a claim. These testimonies also are important to substantiate a claim during negotiations or in court.
There are many variables in a Jones Act claim. An attorney cannot use a standard formula to determine a claim’s value. If you have questions about the value of your claim, contact a maritime attorney at 866-715-3664.