Some maritime injury cases are clear-cut and straightforward. You were healthy and fit before the accident that left you with one or more serious injuries. When your employer has no grounds to deny a claim, they may simply pay it out without fighting. But if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile—and that’s what happens when an employee with a preexisting condition is injured.
If you have a preexisting condition, you may worry about your ability to recover fair compensation after a maritime injury. We can help. Call Fuquay Law Firm at 251-473-4443 now.
Honesty is the Best Policy
First, you must be upfront with your employer about your preexisting injuries and conditions. This is generally brought up early in the hiring process, due to the rigorous nature of maritime work. If you hide your injuries at this stage, you seriously threaten your ability to seek compensation if you do get injured at work. This is due to the McCorpen Defense.
The McCorpen Defense
The McCorpen Defense is widely used by employers who don’t want to pay out expensive Jones Act claims. The defense allows a company to avoid paying maintenance and cure if the following facts apply:
- The employee knew about the preexisting condition when they started working for the company and intentionally hid the condition.
- The company would have used that information in their hiring decision.
- The hidden injury or condition is relevant to the new injury.
If the company can prove that these facts are all true, they stand a good chance of getting out of their maintenance and cure obligation. This is one of the main reasons it’s so important to talk to an attorney with experience in maritime injury claims. Our firm’s familiarity with the McCorpen Defense and ways to prepare for it makes us a natural choice for maritime injury cases.
Worsening Conditions May Limit Your Compensation
You’ll also need to think about the difference between preexisting conditions and worsening conditions. A preexisting condition is simply one that you had prior to the injury. A worsening condition is one that inevitably gets more serious over time, meaning that any workplace injury would only hasten what time was already doing.
For example, consider a back injury that was gradually getting worse over time. The workplace injury is the final straw, and the injury becomes so severe that it warrants immediate surgery. Can they expect their employer to pay the entirety of their medical costs?
In a situation like this one, maybe not. The surgery they needed was one they were going to need eventually, regardless of what happened at work. While the employer may have to pay some money for their role in the final injury, they may not be forced to pay all of it.
Compare that to, for example, a genetic predisposition to a certain type of injury. Yes, the person’s background made them more prone to the injury, but the injury would never have happened were it not for their line of work. In this case, liability would likely still lie with the employer.
Obviously, these types of claims are not black and white. They are highly specific to each worker’s case and medical history. You’ll likely need to rely on medical experts to strengthen your claim.
Make Sure Your Employer Treats You Fairly
If your employer starts talking about preexisting injuries and conditions or even accuses you of hiding your old injuries, your livelihood and your injury claim are in serious danger. It is time to talk to a maritime injury lawyer who can protect your right to compensation and protect you from workplace retaliation.
You can expect an uphill battle in this type of situation, but you deserve fair representation and compensation for your injuries. Hiring an experienced attorney gives you a fighting chance at the money you are due.
What to Do If Your Injury Claim is Being Stalled
What does this mean for you? You can avoid falling prey to the same traps that other injured maritime workers have fallen for. Even if you have a preexisting condition, you may very well be entitled to maintenance and cure, as well as other types of compensation if you have a Jones Act claim. However, you can’t really. Know the full scope of your options until you talk to an attorney.
If your employer is pushing back against your claim, stalling when it comes to filing it, or outright denying it, it’s time to talk to a maritime injury lawyer. A skilled lawyer can help you understand your rights and defend them aggressively.
Start Your Claim with Fuquay Law Firm
If you are concerned that an old injury will threaten your maritime injury compensation, we’re ready to help. Call the seasoned Jones Act lawyers at Fuquay Law Firm at 251-473-4443 or contact us online. The sooner we learn about your case, the sooner we can start advocating for you.