Your Injury, Your Choice: Maritime Rights for Choosing Your Own Injury Doctor
Maritime accidents, unfortunately, occur more often than you may expect. As a result of these risks, if you work in the maritime industry, you need to be aware of specific medical precautions, procedures, and workers’ rights.
The Medical Side of a Maritime Accident
As a maritime industry employee, you have access to maritime laws that don’t apply to land workers. Specifically, when injured on the job, rather than traditional workers’ compensation, you will probably be covered by either the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)—both of which provide significantly greater benefits than normal workers’ compensation.
However, like traditional workers’ compensation, to receive your benefits you must follow the detailed rules in the laws and prove the existence and severity of your injuries. Securing a knowledgeable and experienced maritime attorney can help you build a strong case, but there are some things you need to know to prevent possible legal obstructions before, during, and after an accident.
- Before. Since your occupational risks for injury are higher than most, it is important to maintain an accurate and up-to-date medical record. That means you should schedule regular checkups with a physician. Your medical history can prove that the injuries mentioned in your claim were not caused by previous ailments. Also, these reports can refute employer and insurance suspicion about the severity of your accident—for example, by showing you were in perfect health three weeks ago, and now you can barely walk.
- During and immediately after the incident. When you suffer injuries from a maritime or offshore accident, it’s important to seek medical attention right away, no matter the severity of your wounds. Don’t try to “tough it out.” Your urgency will show that your injury is significant, as well as provide a record of when the injury occurred.
- After. Once the immediate threat of your injuries has bees resolved, your employer may demand that you have all other follow-up appointments transferred to one of its approved physicians. No matter what your employer tells you, you can be treated by any doctor that you choose. Your employer is trying to force you to use the company’s doctor because he is on their side. They’re going to have to pay for your injuries and for a portion of your income while you are out of work. They want their payments to be as small as possible, and they want to get you back on the job as quickly as possible. As such, their doctor is more likely to zero in on more superficial injuries and completely ignore the glaring ones. He’ll offer quick remedies in an attempt to get you back on the job ASAP. O, he may completely turn on you and insist that your injury is the result of a pre-existing condition, or that it doesn’t actually exist at all!
Using What You Know to Secure Your Claim
The bottom line for securing a strong maritime injury claim is to have your doctor record everything. Do not allow your employer to bully you into going to the company physician. If he tries to threaten you or is relentless that it’s company policy for you to do so, contact our office today to speak immediately to your maritime accident attorney.
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