It is no secret that working offshore can be very dangerous work. Because the maritime industry has been around for centuries, the law in the United States has been able to develop so that there are a lot of rules and regulations governing the responsibilities maritime companies must uphold to keep their offshore workers safe. These companies have the advantage of knowing their responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean they share this knowledge with their employees. What that means is that many maritime workers who become injured do not know their rights and simply trust in their employer to “do the right thing.”
There are different laws that provide maritime workers with the right to a safe workplace. In order to maintain safety, maritime workers are supposed to report dangerous or unsafe activities. Many times, there is a fear of being punished for reporting fellow crewmembers or earning a stigma as a “snitch.” What’s worse, companies will have all kinds of company policies and procedures in writing but will not adequately train or supervise to ensure the safety rules are being followed or are good enough.
Usually after an offshore injury, the first thing the company rushes the injured worker to do is sign an incident report or give a witness statement (sometimes before even going to the doctor). This is the first step by the company to start a paper trail that the fault lies with the injured worker. Sometimes supervisors guilt the injured into saying this was no one’s fault. Injured workers have to face this pressure when they are vulnerable and without legal help.
Most injured workers don’t realize that they do not have to go to the doctors chosen by the companies. Unfortunately, these company doctors are chosen for a reason – to say these workers aren’t that hurt and to rush them through treatment to lessen the costs of medical care for the company.
Offshore injuries can be life changing and prevent people from going back to work and providing for their families. Only an experienced maritime lawyer knows the traps these companies set while you place your trust in them during your recovery. Don’t wait months or years down the road hoping the company will do the right thing. These companies rarely ever do once there is an injury involved.