Vessel owners and employers are required to report any maritime injury that requires more than basic first aid and makes the injured seaman unable to perform his work. Oftentimes seamen and offshore workers are directly or indirectly told by their supervisors not to fill out an incident report. This happens for a variety of reasons. For example, many employers and ship owners give bonuses to crews and captains that demonstrate a low number of accidents. Unfortunately, some supervisors attempt to suppress accident reports for these and other reasons.
A seamen’s legal case often requires that the crew promptly complete an accurate accident report and investigation. The United States Coast Guard has prepared a form accident report that satisfies most regulatory requirements. In addition, many employers and ship owners have their own reporting and investigation requirements that, if properly followed, compliment the Coast Guard accident report. These required reports and investigations can help identify witnesses to an accident, the circumstances surrounding an accident, and the injured seamen’s immediate complaints. If an accident report is not completed timely, it can cause difficulties throughout an injured seaman’s legal case.
Injured seamen must also be vigilant to ensure that the accident report is completed accurately. Some supervisors will draft an accident report that improperly places blame on the injured seaman and then present the report to the seaman for his signature. Seamen should never sign any accident report without reading it fully, and seamen should preferably only sign accident reports that they have authored.
If you have been involved in a maritime accident, contact the experienced lawyers at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner for a free consultation. We are the oldest personal injury law firm in Texas and have the skills and experience required to navigate the myriad of federal, state, and sometimes international laws and regulations that apply to a maritime accident.