Can you file a maritime claim if you didn’t fill out an accident report? What if your company refuses to let you complete a maritime accident report? Can you still file a maritime Jones Act claim? . The answer is yes. Watch this video to learn about the other ways in which you can support your Jones Act claim.
Can you win a maritime law or Jones Act case if you have not filled out an accident report? I’m maritime attorney Tim Young and a lot of our clients and prospective clients will ask us, “If I have not filled out an accident report, can I still win a case for an accident that happened on a vessel or an oil rig?”
Well, the answer is absolutely yes. There are other ways that you can prove that you had an accident, even if no accident report was ever completed. I want to discuss those with you in this video.
The first thing I want to point out, however, is that most companies have a rule that accidents are supposed to be reported immediately once they happen. Now, that’s a very different thing than an accident report being completed and written out. And the distinction is, a lot of times employees do not control whether a report is completed and written out.
A lot of times the best an employee can do is report verbally. They can simply tell their supervisor or their boss that they had an accident and that they may have suffered an injury. At that point, it’s pretty much up to your boss or your supervisor if he is going to go and get a written report, actually fill out the form when writing, and get you to sign it.
So, one of the first things we always ask our clients and prospective clients is, did you verbally report it and the company simply failed to fill out the written report? If that’s the situation, then generally the company is going to have a hard time using that against you in court.
Even if you don’t have an accident report that was completed, a lot of times there will be other records on the oil rig or on the vessel that can prove that you had an accident.
Generally, we will look to the medic records. If you’re on an oil rig, a lot of times a medic will make a notation if you come in for treatment. We often see that our client or prospective client actually went to the medic and complained about some type of injury or hurting some part of their body. And that’s a pretty good record that something happened to that person while they were offshore.
So, one of the first things we ask for are the medic records to see if there is any indication that our client may have suffered an injury while working offshore. We can then establish that he obviously had an accident, he reported it to the medic and got treatment from the medic.
Another area where you can prove your accident even if you don’t have an accident report is from your own doctor records. A lot of our prospective clients and clients will go home and go to an emergency room or their family doctor right after the hitch when they suffer an injury. And they’ll actually report to the doctor or to the emergency room how the injury occurred offshore.
So, another thing that we are always sure to get any time we take a case, are the emergency room record as well as the family [doctor] records from our client. Very often the client will give a very good history to his family doctor or to the emergency room about how the accident happened, and we can use that basically as an accident report to show how his accident happened offshore.
There are three other ways that you can prove that you had an accident offshore even if no accident report was completed. One of them is through statements that may have been given after you reported your accident.
A lot of times what happens is individuals will suffer an accident at work, they verbally report it, and an accident report is not done. What ends up happening down the road is they need medical treatment and the company insurance agent or the company representative will then take a recorded statement from that individual and will want to know what happened and how it happened.
Well, what’s really important is usually that company representative or insurance agent is also calling your coworkers. And usually he’s asking them, did this man actually have an accident and was he hurt offshore? And a lot of times they’re tape recording that. So one of the things we always look for is statements that your coworkers may have given, tape-recorded statements over the telephone or in-person that your coworkers may have given where they actually confirmed that you had an accident.
A lot of times these statements are taken within a month or two or maybe three months of the accident occurring. If we can go into court and make the company give us those tape-recorded statements, a lot of times it’s easy, real easy, to show that you had an accident while working out there even if there’s no accident report.
Another way that you can prove that you had an accident offshore is through the testimony of your coworkers, and this will occur as your case progresses. Basically, you’re allowed to take depositions from them and, if they’re being honest, a lot of times you can have them voluntarily explain that you did have an accident and simply a report was not completed.
If you have testimony from your coworkers confirming that you had an accident even if there’s no accident report, very often it’s easy to win your case and to prove that your accident occurred.
A final way that you can win your case if no accident report was completed for a maritime or Jones Act case is simply by your own testimony. Now, honestly, this is a very hard thing to do. Usually, you need written records, or you need at least a coworker to confirm your accident but under the law, you are allowed to win your case, you’re allowed to prove your case simply with your own testimony. You can go to court, you can take the stand and you can explain what happened to you.
So, you do not need an accident report in writing. You don’t even need medical records or witnesses or coworkers to confirm your accident. You can win your case simply based on your own testimony if that is all that you have.
Call us if you have any questions at all about whether an accident report should’ve been completed or how you may be able to prove your case if you didn’t fill out an accident report.
Whether or not you’ve completed an accident report, our team is here to answer any questions you may have about the process of filing a maritime injury claim. We can help determine what types of records and statements may be needed to help you prove your case. Contact our offices online or call 504-680-4100 to speak with a Jones Act attorney who can advise you on your rights and choices under maritime law.
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