As you may already know, you have rights under federal law if you are injured while you are at sea. Many times, your injury needs immediate medical attention, and it may take time to get you to shore for proper treatment.
This means that your injury could get worse or even become life-threatening if you are not taken to shore in time. In extremely serious cases, you should be airlifted from your vessel for treatment.
Your employer’s legal duty
When you become injured or suffer an illness while at sea, your employer has a legal duty to provide you with proper and efficient medical care. If this does not happen, they have failed in this legal duty and you might have a claim for medical negligence.
Federal maritime law states that your employer and the owner of the vessel you are working on must be prepared to respond to medical emergencies while at sea.
This includes but is not limited to having appropriate medical supplies ready and people onboard who are trained to provide emergency medical care. Your vessel should also have the capability to communicate with other ships and the Coast Guard to report injuries and receive medical advice.
How your employer could breach their legal duty
You could sustain an injury at sea that could heal with immediate and proper treatment but might become worse if you are forced to wait too long or worse, are not treated at all. Sometimes a lack of receiving proper care could even mean the difference between life and death.
The sad reality is that sometimes your employer could put their profits over their crew’s safety and wait to treat injuries, figuring they can be treated once you are back on shore.
They could even force you to continue to work after your injury, aggravating it and causing you permanent damage. The toll this can take on you and your loved ones can be huge.
Breaching the duty to provide you with prompt and proper medical care is negligent behavior. You could receive compensation through a negligence claim under the Jones Act.
Medical negligence under the Jones Act
Establishing negligence under the Jones Act requires proving that your employer and/or the vessel owner were negligent, and their negligence caused your injury, resulting in damages.
There are many types of damages you could potentially recover through a Jones Act claim for negligence. You could receive money damages for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and psychological distress.
You could even receive damages for vocational retraining if you are unable to do the job you were previously doing because of the medical negligence.
Protecting your rights
Filing a claim for medical negligence under the Jones Act can be a complicated process, which you might find overwhelming as you try to focus on your healing.
There are attorneys who focus on maritime law that can evaluate your situation, assist you with filing your claim and advocate for your right to compensation.