This is the next post in my series on the handling of maritime and longshore injury cases in Illinois. My last post explained how the Jones Act and the LHWCA govern such matters. It also discussed the need to contact an attorney as such cases involve issues not found in most personal injury or workers’ compensation matters. This article will expand upon that discussion by describing the process of filing a claim under each act. If you or a family member are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Maritime injuries falling under the Jones Act must be reported within seven days
The most important step to take after a maritime injury is to seek immediate care from the ship’s medical staff. This is true even if you do not believe that your injuries are serious. It is possible that injuries may seem minor in the beginning but are actually severe, as it may take time to manifest symptoms. This is especially true in instances involving head trauma, the neck, or the spine. By seeking immediate care, you protect against the risk of letting an injury fester.
Maritime injuries must be reported within seven days of their occurrence. Failing to report your injury, within this window, will mean that you cannot bring a claim under the Jones Act. An injured worker will report their claim by filling out an injury report form and turning it into their Captain. The Captain will then provide the form to the company’s Human Resources office, who will then provide it to the insurance carrier. The Captain will also enter the injury in the ship’s logs. The process of dealing with the insurance carrier will begin from there. This will involve the victim being awarded “maintenance and cure” compensation. If necessary, it will also involve the victim filing a negligence suit against their employer and other relevant third-parties.
Illinois longshore workers must report their injuries to their employers within thirty days
If an Illinois longshore worker, or other individual covered under the LHWCA is injured, then they must report the injury to the employer within thirty days. Those who miss this thirty-day window will generally not be permitted to bring a claim against their employer, though missing the window can be permissible if you show “good cause.” When reporting your injury, there is a process which should be followed. This includes filling out a Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death, which is a form provided by the US Department of Labor. In addition to reporting the injury to your employer, a written claim must be filed with the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (OWCP), which is in charge of overseeing federal worker’s compensation statutes. Your Notice should be filed with the OWCP within one year of the injury.
Your employer’s insurance carrier will pay the necessary benefits for your claim. If you are bringing a negligence case against the owner of the ship, as discussed in my last article, then it is strongly suggested that you retain an attorney to assist you. Cases under the LHWCA can be highly complicated and will often require expert testimony. Having qualified counsel is important to ensure that your rights remain protected. I am a Peoria lawyer handling Illinois maritime and longshore injuries. If you have been injured on the job then my office will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an initial consultation. We look forward to speaking with you.