If you have been injured at sea, your employer’s insurance company will call you to make a settlement offer. It may happen in the days or weeks following your injury or after you file a maritime injury lawsuit. Before you accept a settlement, you need to understand the value of your case so you get all that you’re owed for your accident. Our experienced Jones Act attorneys explain how to estimate your losses and protect your right to full and fair compensation.
How to Estimate Your Jones Act Injury Settlement
Before you set your sights on a monetary figure to compensate you for your losses, you should know the amount of your demand needs to have a legal basis. Even if you set your number high, you should have a minimum you’re willing to accept that covers the total amount of maintenance and cure related to your injury.
A fair Jones Act settlement would include compensation for all of your damages. Lost wages and future loss of earnings potential, plus medical bills past and future, are the most significant ‘pecuniary’ damages the injured seafarer will incur. Then of course is the quantum for conscious pain and suffering, permanent injury, disfigurement, and emotional and psychological injury.
Past and Future Medical Expenses
Past medical costs are relatively easy to calculate using hospital invoices and receipts, but future expenses are more complicated to value. Your attorney can help you determine a reasonable amount by determining whether expensive treatment could be needed a few years from now.
Ordinary medical expenses to include in your calculations are:
- Past and future hospitalizations
- Emergency room care (ambulance transportation and lifesaving services)
- Medevac from your vessel and treatment in another country
- Diagnostics and tests (X-rays, CAT scans, blood work)
- Ongoing doctor’s appointments or physical therapy
- Prescription medications
- Medical devices (such as motorized wheelchairs)
- In-home nursing services
- Necessary remodel to your home to accommodate your injury (such as widening doorways or installing a ramp)
- Mental health counseling
- Out-of-pocket costs
Past and Future Lost Wages
Past wages are calculated by taking the amount of your pre-injury earnings and subtracting any wages you received immediately after the injury. To calculate future lost wages, you will need accurate figures for the following:
- Lost income due to treatment or working at a reduced capacity during recovery
- Reduced future wages due to early retirement or earning less than before the accident due to disability
- Lost fringe benefits (such as health insurance, pensions, or retirement benefits)
Lost Earning Capacity
If your injury prevents you from returning to your former job or limits your ability to work, you will need an economic expert to calculate your lost earning capacity. A professional can give you an accurate value for your:
- Lost potential for promotion
- Inability to qualify for future raises and bonuses
- Costs of transferring to a different position or working reduced hours
- Occupational therapy required to retrain for another job
- The date you would reasonably expect to retire
Past and Future Pain and Suffering
A life-changing injury can take a toll on your body and can cause severe emotional and mental pain. It can be challenging to place a monetary value on your suffering, especially when no amount of money can compensate you for personal or permanent losses. Medical experts are often needed to help quantify damages for:
- Lost quality of life
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Mental anguish or distress
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Fear or anxiety
- Sleep disorders
- Mood swings or behavioral changes
- Chronic pain
- Loss of a limb
- Permanent impairments
- Sexual dysfunction
- Other costs associated with your maritime injury
Can I Accept a Settlement From an Insurer Without a Lawyer?
Many injured seamen accept an insurer’s offer without learning their legal rights. Unfortunately, workers who take a Jones Act settlement without the assistance of a maritime injury lawyer are often paid much less than those with representation. Worst of all, injury victims sign away their rights to future compensation when they accept a lower settlement.
It Won’t Cost You Anything to Discuss Your Options With Our Jones Act Attorneys
You need to speak with the dedicated maritime attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer before you accept an insurance company’s offer. Call us at 800-362-9329 or fill out our online contact form to have us explain your options at no cost to you. You can also learn more about your claim in our complimentary guide, Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.