10 Most Common Mistakes When Injured at Sea
In our over 60 years of combined experience, we have seen a "Top 10" of common mistakes. Here is our list of the ten things we recommend to our clients that they not do following injury at sea, or in a maritime injury situation:
10. Asking for too much. Avoid having an unrealistic expectation of much you will recover. The amount of recovery can vary drastically, depending on a slight change in the facts, or matters related to strategy in negotiating or litigating the claim. Unrealistic expectations can actually lead to less recovery and, if the case is lost, no recovery.
9. Asking for too little. Don’t let yourself be bullied into settling for too little. Representation by experienced counsel should allow you to know whether your claim is being undervalued. It is common for claims representatives, whose interests may be to minimize the amount of the claim, to work to get a claimant to settle for too little.
8. Asking for nothing at all. The law was written to provide for compensation in appropriate circumstances. Monetary compensation is usually the only remedy available; seldom can a wrongdoer undo the injury or the mistake. Also, what seems inconsequential at one time may be very important later. A silent medical condition may only become apparent years after injury.
7. Waiting too long. There are many circumstances in which claims must be filed within a specific time period, or are forever lost. For example, some claims for lost wages must be filed within six months from the date the maritime injury claim first arose. In other circumstances, a client may have as long as three years after injury before filing suit.
6. Doing it on your own. Representing yourself on a claim can be extremely risky. You may be asked to do things you are not obligated to do, and should not do. For example, a second medical exam from a very conservative physician may allow the defense two bites at the apple. You may receive a demand for a statement over the telephone or in writing while is loaded against you and says things that may not be completely true or are against your interests.
5. Trusting someone whose interests are adverse yours. Many times, injured mariners are simply told, "Don't worry, we'll take care of you." In maritime injury cases, sometimes advances against settlement, as much as $1,000 to $3,000 per month, are paid to keep an injured mariner from seeking legal counsel allowing time as above to get statements, opinions from physicians retained by the company, and delay filing suit while the evidence gets cold, etc. Getting advice from competent independent counsel is the best solution to this common problem.
4. Believing you can't lose. While most maritime injury at sea cases are settled favorably and, as many as 90% are settled through mediation, some cases are lost at trial and, under most circumstances, it is difficult, to overturn the verdict on appeal.
3. Trusting that a judge or jury will, in every case, give you what you deserve. Mistakes are made. The legal system can seem arbitrary. Judges can be switched at the last minute, court dockets are so crowded that is very nearly impossible to predict, even with pre-assigned trial dates, when a case will actually go to trial and judgments at trial can be based on perceptions, not reality. A claim can be lost as a result of highly paid expert testimony that presents your case in the most unfavorable light.
2. Letting your claim run your life. Judges and juries like people who help themselves; if you have an injury, it is best to keep trying to do what sound medical advice allows you to do. We advise our clients to live their lives in spite of their claim – not for their claim.
1. Believing that honesty isn't everything. Honesty is everything. Being honest about your injury is the most important part of injury representation. Overstating the claim, not telling the truth about how the injury occurred, or not being completely truthful in all aspects of the injury never works and can even result in the loss of a claim that should otherwise have been won.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The above "Top 10 Mistakes" may have no application whatsoever to your particular situation. Only after a written fee agreement do we commit to discussing strengths, weaknesses, mistakes or otherwise with a client. Matters that are listed above as "mistakes" may, in fact, be perfectly proper or correct in your particular circumstance, and the above should not be taken as advice in any particular case. For example, under some circumstances, it may be perfectly proper for a claimant to ask for nothing at all, decline to pursue a claim, or otherwise avoid claims representation. Please see our Disclaimer, which applies to the above. Selection of an attorney is an important decision, potentially affecting significant rights, and selection of a claims representative should not be made based on advertising alone, including specifically this Web page or Website.