The worry over an unfair settlement is common for those filing a Jones Act claim. According to The Law Dictionary, only five percent of personal injury cases go to court. This means that the vast majority -- 95 percent or so -- are settled out of court. When a seaman is injured on a ship, many employers will attempt to settle out of court. A settlement agreement often results in less time and money than a trial and offers the possibility for both parties to walk away as winners, so to speak.
When a seaman receives a settlement agreement that looks good on paper, he or she may be tempted to accept it without thoroughly reviewing the terms and conditions. What may seem like a lot of money may not be so much after medical bills and lost wages are factored in. This is why a New Orleans, Louisiana, Jones Act lawyer should be allowed to review settlement agreements to ensure victims avoid an unfair settlement.
What a Settlement Agreement Includes
A settlement agreement contains personal information about the affected parties, such as names and contact information. It also includes the total amount the defendant intends to pay the plaintiff, as well as the payment terms (monthly payments, lump sum, etc.). A settlement agreement will also state the consequences if payment is not made.
What to Consider
When settling a Jones Act claim, it is best to know the total value of a claim. This includes various elements, such as how the accident happened, who was at fault, the type of injuries sustained and the amount of expenses paid.
It is important for the victim to document all injuries that occurred as a result of the accident. Were the injuries life-threatening? Is there are temporary or permanent disability involved? The more severe the injuries, the more compensation that could be available.
It is also important to list all damages. Were there any expenses, such as medical bills, or were such costs paid out of pocket? Did the victim have to miss work and therefore lose income? Transportation to and from medical appointments can also be claimed.
If the injuries were serious, the victim can also claim pain and suffering. This is an intangible damage that is difficult to estimate in terms of monetary value and can cause anxiety over an unfair settlement. However, many sources say to multiply the financial damages by three or five in order to come up with a reasonable value. Therefore, if a victim spent $5,000 in medical bills, then pain and suffering could reach $15,000 to $25,000.
Negotiation is key. Victims should not simply accept the first offer. Hiring a New Orleans, Louisiana, Jones Act lawyer can help victims receive more money.
Contacting a New Orleans Maritime Lawyer
Before signing a settlement agreement, get legal advice from a knowledgeable lawyer to avoid an unfair settlement. Most agreements cannot be changed after the fact, so it is important to ensure all damages are included. The Young Firm can help clients review settlement agreements to be sure victims are receiving the highest amount of compensation possible.
Contact The Young Firm today at 504-680-4100 and ask about these free publications: Employee’s Guide to Maritime Injury Law and 6 Secrets Your Company May Not Tell You When You Get Injured Offshore, because knowledge is the first step in avoiding an unfair settlement.