The offshore industry is a big factor in the Gulf South economy. Often lost in the shuffle are the workers who make this industry run. Let’s face it, offshore work is not only demanding, it is dangerous. The Johns Firm, LLC assists and represents offshore workers who have been injured in Texas, Louisiana, and throughout the Gulf South.
While it is natural to feel a sense of dedication and loyalty to your employer. However, you need to understand that your injury claim will not be handled by the employer you know. It will be handled by an insurance company’s claims department and a team of experienced defense attorneys whose goal is to limit or deny your compensation.
If you are injured on the job offshore, you need to take steps to protect your rights so your injury claim can be handled fairly. Here is a list of 8 things to do if you are injured offshore.
1. Report You Injury to Your Accident and Employer Immediately
Let’s face it, many of us don’t like to admit that we have been injured. We like to delay the inevitable, thinking that maybe the pain will go away. But when you wait to report your injury to your employer it only hurts your claim preventing you from recovering the medical benefits and financial compensation you deserve.
One trick employers like to play is claiming that your injury is not work-related. Evidence that you did not immediately report an accident or injury only helps the employer avoid responsibility for your injury. For the best results, you should report your accident and injury immediately to your employer.
2. Tell the Truth
When you report an accident or injury to your employer, be careful to tell the complete truth. If you don’t know the details of what exactly happened, do not guess. Many honest people’s claims have gone no where because they decided to guess what happened instead of simply telling their employer what they know. You should always use extreme caution to be as factually accurate as possible.
3. Get A Written Report Signed by Your Employer
When you report your accident or injury to your employer, get a written report and be sure that the report is 100% accurate. Sometimes employers will create false reports with the hope that the injured worker will be do preoccupied with their medical condition to notice. If you can, review the report carefully. If the employer is being untruthful in their reporting, let them know in writing and consult an attorney. If your employer is attempting to stack the deck against you early on, you need to act with extreme caution.
4. Do Not Go Back to Work if you are Injured
Many employees make the mistake of returning to work the remainder of their hitch in the hope that the pain will go away. Don’t make this mistake. I once worked on a case where the employee returned to work despite severe back pain after slipping down a flight of stairs offshore. He worked the rest of his hitch, went home, and tried ice treatment and over-the-counter pain medication to treat his symptoms. When it was time to start his next hitch, he was unable to work, and he reported the accident and injury to the employer. The employer forced the employed to file a claim and proceed to trial more than one-year later to get the benefits he deserved. The moral of this story is report your injuries immediately and seek immediate medical assistance if the pain makes it difficult to work. If you cannot return to work, you should request to be taken back to shore.
5. Provide Your Employer with a Written Statement
In addition to getting a written report of injury, it is helpful if an injured worker provides a written statement about what happened. A written statement is different from a report. While the employer typically will prepare its initial incident report, the employee can provide a written statement to make sure that the full story of what happened is accurately reported. Again, if you provide a written statement, be sure that every fact is accurate. Exaggerating or embellishing what happened will only hurt your case in the long-run.
6. You Should Select an Independent Physician for Medical Treatment
Many employers will send an employee to their preferred physician after an accident or injury. Do not fall for this trap. We have seen employer preferred physicians misdiagnose numerous serious injuries to create a false narrative that the employee was not injured on the job. The law gives you the right to select your own physician. You do not have to see the employer’s preferred physician immediately after an accident. If you have a serious injury that requires immediate treatment, go to the emergency room. If you have a primary care physician that you use, be sure to visit him or her soon after the accident. Many times a primary care physician can refer you to a specialist who they believe will provide the best treatment possible.
7. Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
When you seek medical treatment, it is important it is important that you comply with your doctor’s recommendations. If you do not comply with treatment recommendations, your employer will most certainly use that to claim that you are not being truthful about your injury.
8. Accurately Report Your Symptoms to Your Doctor
One of the hardest things for many of us to do is provide an accurate description of our medical issues. When you see your doctor following an accident, be sure to tell them exactly what is wrong. If you have pain and numbness in your back, take the time to describe exactly how the pain is impacting. For example, does not numbness extend into your legs. Is the pain stabbing? Is it constant? Is it more of a dull sensation? Have your legs just gone out on you while walking? It is important to provide your doctor with as much information as possible so they can provide the treatment you need. It is equally important to ensure that you have accurately reported your symptoms to show the severity of your injuries to help you get the medical benefits and compensation you deserve.
Our attorneys have handled hundreds of offshore injury cases and can provide you representation and guidance in the event you are injured. With office in New Orleans and Houston, the Johns Firm, LLC helps offshore workers get the medical benefits and compensation they deserve. Our attorneys have specialized backgrounds in maritime law and understand the complex set of rules that govern offshore worker compensation claims.