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Offshore Injuries: There Is Still Hope Even If Injury Is First Unreported

Photo of Lena B. Laurenzo

Sometimes injuries on vessels go unreported. In the time it takes some offshore injuries to manifest, the injured offshore worker may be long off the rig, boat, or barge before he realizes he was injured on the job and did not report it to anyone. Just because an offshore work injury was not immediately reported does not mean there is no chance to be made whole under the Jones Act.

Crucial to protecting the health and rights of an injured offshore worker is prioritizing seeing a doctor and reporting the injury to the employer immediately once it is realized the injury is job-related. Any required company incident report forms should be filled out. Injured offshore workers should describe any dangerous conditions personally witnessed involving the accident or job that caused the injuries. Examples include a supervisor ordering a crew member to perform a dangerous task; repetitive or awkward physical tasks without proper equipment that is not available on the vessel; greasy decks that are poorly cleaned and maintained; and fellow crew members or workers on the vessel who mishandled equipment or failed to communicate hazards.

Offshore workers may feel intimidated by the prospect of including negative facts about their employers when reporting dangerous conditions, but they should know the company will use any delay in reporting and any failure to include important details known about the accident against the injured worker.

Doctors can provide treatment required to recover from offshore injuries. Offshore workers are not required to see the doctors chosen by their employers under the Jones Act. No permission from the employer is required before the injured worker can get any necessary medical treatment. Prioritizing medical treatment is the smartest way to give recovery the best chances while also preserving any potential Jones Act case. While doctors can diagnose any trauma suffered by an offshore worker, not all doctors are familiar with the dangerous conditions in which offshore workers are normally working. Any details included in the incident report can be shared the doctor as well so it is clear within the medical records the injuries were sustained at work.

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed while working offshore, please contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 1-800-594-4884.

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