After a serious maritime injury, you may feel a lot of pressure. Your employer might tell you that you need to give them a statement and see their doctor. You may be worried about your unpaid bills and your need for ongoing medical care. Rather than worry about these issues, the lawyers at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys want to help and give you the time you need to focus on your recovery.
Below, we explain how the Jones Act and Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) handle maritime worker’s’ right to medical treatment.
Injured Maritime Workers Are Typically Entitled to Medical Care
While different laws cover seaman and longshoremen, both typically have a right to prompt medical care after a maritime injury. However, the laws that apply to your claim will impact your ability to choose your doctors and control your care.
- Seamen can choose their own maritime injury doctors: Under the Jones Act, crewmembers on ships have broad control over their medical care.
- Longshoremen and harbor workers must pick their doctor off an approved list: Under the LHWCA, workers choose their doctor off of a government-approved list, and the employer or a judge must sign off if you want to change doctors.
If you’re unsure which law applies to your claim, you should contact a maritime injury lawyer at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys immediately.
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Your Company May Try to Pressure You to See Their Doctor
If you’re onboard a vessel, your medical options are relatively limited. Depending on the circumstances, you may receive care from someone onboard or require a med-evac from the Coast Guard. However, once you get back on land, you need to take control of your medical care.
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Companies frequently try to pressure injured maritime workers into seeing the company’s preferred doctor. They may even tell you that seeing their doctor will speed up your claim or that they’ll deny benefits if you choose a different doctor. They may also try to get you to make statements about your injuries. Don’t fall for these tricks.
In maritime injury claims, your treating doctor’s opinions carry a lot of weight. Their views on whether you can return to work, your need for ongoing medical care, and when you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), can deeply impact the value of your claim.
For example, under the Jones Act, your employer only has to pay your maintenance and cure benefits until you reach MMI and for doctor-recommended treatment. When you seek treatment with the company’s preferred doctor, their primary concern may be the company’s bottom line, not your health. You may miss out on important medical care, referrals to specialists, and be released back to work before it’s in your best interests. These choices can lead to further injury, lost compensation, and unnecessary delays in your claim.
While some company doctors focus on the worker’s best interests, many of them are more concerned about protecting your employer and reducing their liability. They are not going to advocate for you or stand up to the company. Therefore, you should always pick a doctor you trust, not the one that the company recommends.
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Simple Ways You Can Pick the Best Possible Doctor for Your Maritime Injury Claim
Before you choose your maritime injury doctor, you should ask them a series of questions that assess their skill and knowledge:
- How often do you treat maritime injuries?
- How familiar are you with my specific injuries and conditions?
- Do you have any connection with my employer?
- Are you willing to complete forms and testify in maritime injury claims?
- Do you understand how maritime law defines maximum medical improvement?
If you’re not comfortable with the doctor’s answers for any reason, you should not select them. And if you’re struggling to find the right doctor, you should consult with a local maritime injury lawyer who may be able to recommend a reputable and knowledgeable physician.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: We Fight for Injured Maritime Workers
If you or a loved one have suffered serious or catastrophic injuries in a maritime accident, you need an aggressive and knowledgeable attorney at your side. Maritime employers and their insurance companies do everything in their power to reduce the value workers’ claims. Andy Citrin is a certified proctor in admiralty, and our law firm helps workers get the compensation and benefits they deserve.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.