Injuries at sea are handled much differently than state-by-state workers’ compensation policies. For this reason, employers can easily take advantage of workers who don’t know their rights.

If you’re a maritime worker, you should know how to watch for whether an injury report you file could be helpful or hurtful.

Why you need an injury report

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that filing an injury report after getting hurt on the job is absolutely essential. Every injured seaman is entitled to benefits, such as transportation, maintenance and cure under federal maritime law by The Jones Act.

However, to secure these rights, seamen must:

  • Report major injuries to an employer as soon as possible
  • Ensure the injury and circumstances are clearly documented in an incident report
  • Take photographs and get testimonies concerning the injury and the circumstances
  • Keep a copy of the incident report

It’s important to note that while an incident report must be filed and the injury must be reported, seamen should not sign a release of any type in order to receive benefits under the Jones Act. Tricks such as these can be used by employers to avoid liability and ultimately keep employees from the benefits they deserve.

The risk in signing an incident report

There are, in fact, many tricks an employer may pull in order to keep an incident report from actually fulfilling its main purpose. Always remember that many employers hope to use the report to show that the accident was not their fault.

In some cases, it may seem like the accident did not happen at the fault of the employer. However, factors, such as providing employees with poor training or not staffing enough employees, could contribute fault for the incident to the employer.

If the employer is successful in rephrasing the events of the incident to make the accident appear to be the seaman’s fault, a signature from the seaman could release the employer from the responsibility to pay damages.

How to secure your rights

To keep from signing an inaccurate incident report and unknowingly sacrificing benefits you are entitled to, it’s a good idea to have a lawyer review the report first.

Law Offices of John W. Merting, P.A. is dedicated to aiding workers who feel they are being pressured or forced into a bad deal. We’ll help you understand the benefits you’re entitled to and give you the tools you need to secure them.