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What You Need to Know Before Hiring an Offshore Injury Lawyer

| Dec 22, 2020 | Offshore Injury

Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in court

Are you looking to hire an offshore injury lawyer? That’s great, but before you go out there and hire the first bloke you see, you need to know some things in advance.

For instance, many lawyers who provide offshore injury legal support have no prior experience in this field of law.

This means you’re being represented by someone who knows no better than a person off the street, but if you know to vet the bad apples from the tree, you’ll be fine. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know before hiring an offshore injury lawyer.

So whenever you’re ready to ensure you get the support you need, keep reading.

What Is the Jones Act?

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act is a federal law, which presides in maritime commerce, maintenance requirements for shipping operations and boats, but also the rights of crew members.

As per the act, negligence claims are to be risen if an injury results from the negligent behavior of coworkers or the employer. The ship owners can be held liable as well if the accident is caused by unsafe vessel conditions.

The act protects crew members in the circumstance in which they are injured. This act applies to offshore crew members on dredges, diving vessels, chemical ships, boats, tankers, cruise ships, semi-submersibles, drilling rigs, barges, cargo ships, towboats, tugboats, fishing vessels, offshore supply vessels. But also to inland river workers.

Through the coastal regions of Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, etc, and the Gulf of Mexico – dockworkers, seamen, and gas industry/oil employees are working in dangerous environments.

Due to the nature of this work, many injuries and accidents can have life-altering consequences. Injuries can be fatal too. So if you or someone you love has been killed or injured, it’s in your best interest to make use of the Jones Act.

Offshore Accidents

The offshore environment is a dangerous one. Accidents happen, often. Here are some examples of the accidents that are all too common in the offshore industry:

Deck Accidents

These include slip and fall accidents that occur on unsecured leaders, slipper catwalks, and wet surfaces. Workers can easily lose their fingers and hands in cables, hoists, and winches. Swinging cables and falling objects are part of it too.

Equipment Malfunction

Offshore environments are harsher than onshore ones. This means equipment malfunctions more often, which leads to a greater likelihood of injuries. One of the most common injuries is drowning, caused by employees being knocked into the water.

Explosions & Fires

A collision can cause tanks to rupture, creating a risk of explosion and fire. Poorly maintained pumps can spray oil into the exhaust, which will lead to uncontrollable fires.

Overuse

Overuse injuries occur from repetitive activities. Employees can suffer severe back injuries from carrying heavy objects regularly.

Here are some other examples of common maritime accidents:

  1. Electrocution
  2. Fractures
  3. Burns
  4. Blindness
  5. Lost limbs
  6. Hypothermia
  7. Internal injuries
  8. Concussions
  9. Lacerations
  10. Spinal cord trauma

With that being said, all of these injuries are covered by federal law. This means you can simply create a claim that will hold the parties “negligent” responsible, so if you successfully win your case, you will be compensated greatly. For that to happen, you need an experienced offshore injury lawyer.

Some Employers Will Avoid Supporting Injured Employees

Via the Jones Act, employees receive maintenance and cure from their employers. However, this support is very minimal. And even then, some employers will blatantly avoid supporting their injured employees.

In some cases, an employer might try to pay a maintenance rate much lower than that which is needed to cover living expenses. In other situations, the employer might delay purpose payments. If this happens, you must contact your firm as soon as possible.

Employers might also try to restrict cure payments. For instance, your employer might try to push you to get care from the enterprise’s doctor rather than sending you to somebody who has the expertise to treat your condition properly. They might also refuse to pay for more expensive testing to diagnose the condition.

You must get to select your health provider. If you are being bullied, we will make sure that you get the care you deserve to recover from your injuries.

Here are some questions you can ask to determine if your offshore injury lawyer is worth your time.

What Experience Do You have Handling Maritime & Jones Act Injury Claims?

Maritime and Jones Act injury claims involve serious state and federal laws. These cases can be quite complex, so you need to be sure that you are working with a lawyer who not only understands the law but is also familiar with how the industry operates.

If your firm does not understand how to represent the rights of injured workers, then what’s the point? It can be hard to litigate cases against industry monopolies, but an experienced lawyer will know how to push their weight. It takes perseverance to combat against the lawyers that are on retainer with these companies.

Can the Offshore Injury Lawyer Handle My Case If I Live In Another State?

Accidents and maritime injuries happen all over the country and the world. When dealing with a maritime injury, you need to find a lawyer who will be willing to represent you regardless of where you might be living.

Nationwide representation is rare, but if you can find it, that’s even better. Offshore injury lawyer firms are often licensed to practice on either coast, which means no matter where you’re located, their lawyers will be able to fight for your rights.

And even if that does not work out, they often have strong relationships with other experienced lawyers across the nation who they will be glad to refer you to.

How Easy Is It to Reach You?

When you have been a victim of an accident, you need to know that your lawyer will be available in the direst of times. Legal procedures and laws can be overwhelming and confusing, particularly if this is your first time operating within the means of the judicial system.

The needs of the client should always come first. So if a lawyer cannot help or provide quick assistance in a variety of languages, you might be missing out on important aspects of your legal process.

Do You Practice In the Courthouse Where the Case Will Be Held?

Finding a lawyer with the appropriate legal past is critical, but it’s also very valuable to find a lawyer who has experience with the judges and courthouse in which your case will be held.

If you’re involved in a criminal matter, the lawyer must also be well-acquainted with the local prosecutors. Courtroom experience will always greatly enhance the attorney’s ability to assess the likelihood of outcomes for your case, as well as advise on how to respond to these outcomes.

Do You Have Conflicts Of Interest?

Lawyers in each state have an obligation to be transparent about conflicts of interest. You can still ask the questions. If the lawyer’s representation of prior clients limits their ability to represent you, there might be conflict.

For instance, if you need to sue a maritime company that they represent, there’s conflict. A conflict can also arise if the lawyer you are interviewing has already been hired by the co-defendant.

Not all conflicts disqualify their counsel, but you should still fully understand the conflict and its nature. This is important and should be understood before you decide to hire a lawyer or not.

What Will the Expenses & Fees Be?

You need to be ascertained how your lawyer will charge for their support. In some situations, they might charge a fixed amount. In other situations, they might charge an hourly rate.

If you’re suing for personal injury damages, the lawyer might charge a contingency fee. This means they get paid when the settlement is successful. Make sure you discuss all aspects of fees that are associated with your legal support.

The expenses usually include pretty much anything. Starting with photocopies to expert witness hires. While your lawyer might not be capable of giving you an accurate quiet, you should have a greater understanding of the approximate price tag.

Who Will Do the Work?

Your lawyer might work for a larger law firm with paralegals and junior associates. Ensure that you know who will be on your case and what capacity they will be filling.

Your lawyer can save money by outsourcing his tasks to other employees who charge lower rates. But your lawyer should be involved fully in the important decisions about your case or should be able to explain why his colleague is more important for that part of the case.

Legal Support for You

Now that you know how to vet out your offshore injury lawyer, you are well on your way to find the right attorney for you. As long as you ask the right questions, don’t get pressured into rash decisions, and do your research, you will the right person for the job.

In any case, you might not have to look any further. If you’re interested in having our legal representation in the Greater Houston area, get in touch with us and we will happily accommodate your needs.