Maritime injury laws not only protect a worker’s health, but they also provide certain rights after an accident at sea. If you have been injured and need medical intervention beyond first aid, you have the right to return to land immediately for further treatment.
Steps to Take After an Injury at Sea
If you are injured offshore or on a vessel, your employer will likely send you to the ship’s physician for treatment instead of returning to shore. Unfortunately, the onboard physician’s mandate is to get you back to work as soon as possible—and with limited diagnostic testing available at sea, your injuries could be more severe than the doctor can readily determine.
If your maritime injury needs immediate medical treatment, you should:
- Get to land as soon as possible. A delay in treatment can put your health at risk, and it could also be used against you later when you attempt to claim benefits. Under the doctrine of maintenance and cure, you may request to return to land—or have a Coast Guard ship or helicopter convey you back to land—if you are out at sea.
- Choose your own physician. While your employer or insurance company may “recommend” a doctor on land, you are under no obligation to use this doctor for your treatment. In fact, it is in your best interest not to see a physician that has a relationship with, or is paid by, your employer or its insurer. You have the right to see a doctor of your choosing and your employer is obligated to pay for your medical expenses.
- Obey your doctor’s orders. No matter which physician you see, it is vital that you continue to attend all follow-up appointments and follow his or her instructions to the letter. If you attempt to return to work too early or perform physical activities that conflict with your doctor’s orders, it will be harder to obtain compensation for your injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured while performing maritime work, our attorneys can determine who may be liable for your accident and what you are owed under the law. Call (800) 362-9329 today to set up your initial consultation or download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights today.