The most extensive avenue for financial recovery after a maritime accident is a Jones Act claim. Unfortunately, to file a Jones Act claim, you must be able to prove that negligence led to the accident that caused your injury. Providing negligence can be a difficult battle, as you’ll need evidence of negligence to convince an employer to settle, or to show in court to support your negligence claim. If you’ve been injured in a maritime accident caused in part by negligence, you should try to collect evidence of this negligence as soon as possible after your accident.
What Evidence Proved Negligence?
Any evidence you can get that proves the owner of the vessel or your employer was negligent should be documented. Common types of evidence include:
- Photographs of the accident scene, including any negligent conditions that caused your accident
- Photographs of your injuries
- Statements from anyone who witnessed your accident, preferably collected as soon as possible after the accident
- Contact information for witnesses in case you need to reach them in future
- Maintenance information for any equipment that might have contributed to your accident, including defective equipment
- Any safety records for your vessel, leading up to and including your accident, as well as records for the time closely following your accident
- Physician statements, doctor evaluations and medical records
- Copies of medical bills
It helps to keep notes about your recovery and how you’re adjusting to your injuries. Buy a notebook and write down how you’re feeling on a given day, how your recovery is going and how your injuries are impacting your day-to-day life. This can be especially important if your injuries impact your ability to return to work - particularly if your employer is disputing your ability to return to work.
Why Negligence is Important in a Maritime Accident
Under general maritime law, you’re entitled to maintenance and cure if you’re an injured seaman, regardless of whether your injury was caused by negligence. But if you can prove that your employer is negligent, you may also be entitled to compensation for lost wages, including future wages, pain and suffering, future medical expenses, the cost of retraining and even punitive damages. Negligence is an important piece of this puzzle, so it’s vital to document evidence of negligence and to consult an experienced maritime attorney who can help you examine your options.