Timeline of Arbitration in a Maritime Injury Case
While arbitration is more beneficial to an employer than a Jones Act seaman, it’s still possible for workers to obtain a favorable settlement. There may only be a dispute over certain aspects of the injury rather than liability for the claim as a whole. Whatever the scope of the disagreement, the procedure for arbitration will likely include:
- Notice of arbitration. According to New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR) 7503(c), the employer will send you a notice of demand for arbitration. After receiving this letter, you and your attorney should locate the relevant arbitration clause and review its provisions.
- Challenging arbitration. Arbitration often results in smaller insurance payouts. Workers have a better chance of getting higher compensation in a trial by jury. If the arbitration clause in your contract was signed under duress or otherwise unenforceable, your attorney may seek court intervention to refuse arbitration in favor of a trial. If this is unsuccessful, arbitration continues.
- Pre-hearing procedures. Attorneys and arbitrators will work out the administrative details of the case, such as the location and schedule for the hearing, the identity of the arbitrators, how the hearing will be organized, the timing of pleadings or other submissions, the extent of discovery, how evidence may be used, admissibility of live testimony or declarations, and the scope of issues to be decided.
- Pre-hearing statements. Before each hearing, the employer’s and injured worker’s attorneys must submit their pre-hearing statements to the opposition and the arbitrators. Each side must also provide copies of any documents, exhibits, or testimony to be introduced within a reasonable time before the hearing. Your attorney should be doing everything possible to access relevant evidence to support your case during this time. If your ship is still at sea or crew members have rotated, we may need to track down witnesses and subpoena the ship’s records.
- Case presentation. Once we have built a strong case, we follow the arbitrator’s schedule of presenting physical evidence and witness statements. All parties will share all evidence submitted to the arbitration panel. Once all evidence has been submitted, the parties may present oral closing arguments or submit post-hearing briefs to the arbitration panel.
- Adjudication. The arbitration panel determines the strength and relevance of the evidence presented by both parties. If more evidence or clarification is needed, arbitrators may request additional documentation from the parties, subpoena witnesses and documents, or order the deposition of witnesses unable to testify in person. Finally, arbitrators may direct the parties to submit supplemental briefing documents or appear for oral arguments on any issue.
- Decision. The arbitration panel will issue a decision, which may be accompanied by the reasons for the particular decision in writing. The decision has the same weight and effect as a formal court judgment once filed with the court, making it difficult or impossible for a seaman to dispute the outcome successfully.
Our Maritime Injury Lawyers Won’t Charge Anything Unless You Win
If arbitration is necessary in your case, the experienced maritime attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can protect your rights to a full and fair settlement. Call us at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY 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.