Factors for a Successful Jones Act Offshore Injury Case

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Many clients ask “will my Jones Act offshore injury case be successful?”   No lawyer telling the truth can ever promise a result.  All we can do is promise to try our best, use our experience and skill, and work hard to achieve the best possible result for a client.  As a lawyer, there are many things I look at to determine whether our client may win their case.  No one factor can answer the “will I make it through this lawsuit” question, but generally here are some of the things that matter the most:

Most importantly, a good client makes a good Jones Act case.  Every step of the way, the Jones Act employer, the company lawyers, the judge and then the jury will be checking you out.  They will watch what you do, what you say, and your body language.  At trial the result often depends on who the jury believes.  Many times the company witnesses – your former employer and co-workers – are less than straightforward about what happened in the incident.  They may deny that an incident or injury occurred, or claim that you said things that you did not say.  This is why it is very important that the jury understand that you are honest, straightforward and telling the truth.  It may sound old fashioned, but in the courtroom good things often happen for good people.  So, in any Jones Act offshore injury case, I want to know I have a good client, and believe in my client.

I also look carefully at how bad the Jones Act employer’s conduct has been.  Was the incident a result of a simple mistake, or did the employer act in bad faith or with gross negligence?  Did the employer know that it was exposing its offshore employees to a risk of injury?  Had an incident like this happened before?  The answers to these questions help determine whether a Jones Act offshore injury case is a straightforward negligence matter, or something that is offensive enough to anger the judge or jury looking at their conduct.  Sometimes the employer’s behavior, and the actions of their lawyers, can affect the outcome of a case.   On occasion an employer will take responsibility for a mistake that results in an offshore injury.  Other times they will, in a lawsuit, pursue what I call the Bart Simpson defense:  “I didn’t do it, no one saw me do it, no one can prove it.”

I want to make sure I understand and can explain not just the injury my Jones Act client has suffered, but whether the injury is one that is permanent.  A permanent injury will change my client’s life and end their offshore career.  Equally important in bringing a Jones Act case is the ability to speak with my client’s family and friends so I can understand the impact and consequences not just on my client’s career but on his or her life and that of the family.

Being forced by an offshore injury to go through a lawsuit can be challenging and difficult.  It is hard on our clients and takes a toll on their families.  The best thing you can do is trust your lawyer to do his or her job, and rely on your family, friends and faith to get you through.

More info: For more information, contact Doyle Raizner LLP

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