IT’S A RACE YOU DON’T WANT TO LOSE
Oftentimes in vessel accidents it is a “race to the evidence”. Meaning, insurance company investigators are probably working right now to get the witnesses to your accident to say things that are favorable to the company. These insurance investigators are pros at asking leading questions with double meanings that will be used against you later in court. The quicker your lawyer contacts the witnesses, the better these insurance company tricks can be nipped in the bud.
SEAMAN STATUS AND “SIERACKI SEAMAN”
Many lawyers and lawyer web-sites will tell you that you need to work on a vessel(s) for 30% of your total work time in order to qualify for “Seaman Status.” While this is generally true for “Jones Act Seaman” – – this is not the case with “Sieracki Seaman.”
Traditionally “Sieracki Seaman” were Longshoreman injured aboard vessels. However, the 1972 Amendments to the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) excluded Longshoreman from being found “Sieracki Seaman.” California, Alaska and few other State Courts expressly approve of Sieracki claims. We have successfully brought “Sieracki Seaman” cases in California Superior Court.
If you work aboard a vessel and don’t qualify for Jones Act Seaman Status and don’t fall under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act; then you may qualify as a Sieracki Seaman if you performed traditional seaman’s activities. You may still sue you employer under unseaworthiness and general maritime law negligence.
These Sieracki cases are some of the most missed Seaman cases in law. Too often, clients sign up with a California workers compensation lawyer. This is a huge mistake. State of California workers compensation benefits are extremely unfair to injured workers. You need a maritime lawyer – – not a California workers compensation attorney. Don’t make this mistake.
DON’T GET LULLED – YOU STILL HAVE TO PROVE YOUR CASE
Some folks say proving Jones Act Negligence is as easy as falling out of a boat and hitting water. Our suggestion is to not be so casual about the cause of action. Your lawyer should be prepared to prove your case as any land-based negligence case. Remember, at the end of the day your lawyer needs to motivate a jury. One motivation is showing your employer “did something wrong.” Meaning, the ability to show fault by your employer caused your injuries.
Make sure your lawyer is going to “run out the ground balls.” Meaning, interview every witness and run out every lead until it either leads no where or leads to the evidence that will win your case.