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Injured On A Fleet Vessel? What To Do Now

By: Henri M. Saunders

Like many fields, working in the maritime industry presents a unique set of hazards, and like any industry, it should be safe and free of hazardous risks. However, accidents can happen.  Knowing what to do next can help you become eligible for benefits and compensation surrounding these accidents. 

Whether you’re hurt on a fleet vessel docked in a harbor or on the river, time is working against you. You should work quickly to file a legal claim for the incident. Our experienced attorneys at Saunders & Chabert can help you navigate your claim, but it’s essential to follow the proper steps.

5 Steps To Follow After A Maritime Injury

Although your injuries may not seem significant initially, they could leave a lasting impact. So, for best results, follow these five essential steps:

  1. Report The Accident

The first thing you should do is report the accident. Bring the incident to your captain, employer, or senior officer’s attention, ensuring you report the accident, injury, and symptoms.

Unfortunately, waiting isn’t in your best interest, as the vessel or shipping company’s insurer may automatically assume you weren’t injured significantly enough to justify opening a claim. 

  1. Ask To Be Brought To Land

After reporting the incident, ask to be brought to land for medical treatment. It isn’t unheard of for employers to delay this process in the name of profit, so they may require you to wait days or even weeks before bringing you off the water to land.

If this is your case, record it every time you request medical treatment. Write down the names of company officials you made aware of your request and the dates when the requests were denied.

  1. Collect Relevant Information

While you wait to be brought to land, collect relevant information. Of course, you should only attempt to gather information if you’re physically able. 

When you’re able, take photos, write down the incident, and collect witness statements and contact information. Take pictures of your injuries (if applicable), where the injury occurred, the equipment you were using when the accident occurred, and any other relevant information.

Write down the details surrounding the incident shortly after it occurs, noting integral details. This includes witnesses, things that may have caused the injury, issues with your employer (related to the injury), phone calls regarding your injury or claim, and anything else pertaining to the incident.  

In addition, collect witness statements and their contact information for later use. 

  1. Seek Medical Attention

When you arrive back onshore, seek medical attention, even if you believe your injuries are minor. Sometimes, injuries can seem insignificant but have long-lasting effects, so ensure you review all of your symptoms with your doctor. Follow up with your provider until they confirm your treatment is complete. 

Unfortunately, employers often work with the same doctors on a regular basis, so the company knows they will lean in the company’s favor should the need arise. So, if litigation is imminent or the decision to terminate your care arises, it will likely sway in favor of your employer. Therefore, choose a medical provider that works for your needs. 

  1. Contact Saunders & Chabert For Legal Assistance

As soon as you receive emergency medical attention for your injuries, contact a qualified personal injury attorney to review your situation immediately. Avoid signing anything, aside from the incident report, without first consulting a lawyer. After reviewing your situation and the details surrounding it, your attorney can help by navigating the specifics of your case to achieve favorable results for you. 

Although maritime laws usually fall under the scope of federal law, the specifics can vary from state to state. Given these nuances, it’s essential to seek an attorney who is familiar with maritime law variances in your state.  

What Does Saunders & Chabert Do Differently Than Other Firms?

At Saunders and Chabert, your recovery is a priority for us. Helping you keep your livelihood is extremely important to us and we believe you should receive compensation for your injuries. We have over a decade of experience practicing and fighting for individuals injured on docks, ships, and fleets, so we’re prepared to help you navigate the complex waters surrounding maritime law. 

We’re easy to reach anytime, so if you have questions or concerns surrounding your claim, we can help. Once we begin working together, you can easily contact us via our cell phone numbers for guidance anytime. 

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