No one accepts an overseas contract or employment position with the intent of becoming injured on the job. But injuries while working abroad happen to many Americans each year. It can be a scary situation, to be hurt and unable to work while being so far from home. While each injury sustained by an American overseas is a unique situation, with unique legal protections available to the injured worker based on the specifics of his or her situation, all work-related injuries sustained by overseas employees do share a common approach to how the injury should be handled.
Report The Injury And Seek Medical Attention
What exactly should be done first when you are injured while working abroad depends on your injury. If the injury is severe or life-threatening, your first action should be to seek out the medical attention that you need to stabilize your injury. However, if the injury is less severe, for example, a broken limb or a laceration, it might be possible (or even protocol, depending on your situation) to notify your supervisor or captain first. Use your best judgement when deciding whether to obtain medical attention immediately or to report your injury.
However, you should be advised that your injury needs to be reported within a certain amount of time after the injury is sustained in order to legally protect and preserve your rights. The laws that protect overseas workers have certain timeframes in which an injured worker must report his or her injury in order to be eligible for compensation for the injury and medical treatment for the injury. For example:
- Under the Jones Act, which applies to seamen and sailors who suffer an injury while working on an American vessel in United States waters, injured workers must report their injuries to a captain or supervisor within one week (seven days) of sustaining the injury.
- Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, which provides employees who suffer an injury or illness while working on the navigable waters of the U.S., or adjoining areas with employment-related injury and occupational disease protection, injured workers must report their injuries to a captain or supervisor within thirty days of the injury.
- Certain other classes of workers are also covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, through extensions of the Act, such as the Defense Base Act, which provides employment-related injury protection to civilian employees and public works or national defense government contractors working outside the United States. These other classes of workers must comply with the thirty day injury reporting requirement of the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.
Collect Any Evidence Relating To Your Injury
Injury reporting protocol varies from employer to employer, and you should make sure to comply with whatever the injury reporting procedures are for your employer as soon as possible. The best reporting method you can follow for the purposes of protecting yourself is to complete a written reporting of your injury, documenting the circumstances leading up to your injury, and any diagnosis or prognosis that you have obtained from the medical professional treating your injury. Also including information such as the date and time of the injury and the name of the medical professional treating your and the date and time your received treatment, or treatments, is also important to document. Obtaining a copy of this report for your own records is a good way to preserve the evidence of your injury claim.
Recording other evidence about your injury can help you build a strong case in the event that your employer disputes your claim. For instance, if anyone witnessed your injury, obtaining a written statement from that person, with the witness’ name and contact information is important for your case. Doing this as soon after the injury happens as possible is best since the incident is still fresh in the witness’ memory. Similarly, obtaining copies of any video surveillance of the injury makes great supporting evidence of your injury claim, if such video evidence is available.
Contact A Lawyer That Specializes In Your Type Of Injury Claim
It is supremely important that you have a firm understanding of your legal rights once you have been injured while on the job overseas. You will be contacted by your employer and the employer’s insurance provider regarding your work-related injury. Be mindful that it is these individual’s primary objective to pay out as little money as possible for your injury. It is a good idea to exercise caution when confronted by these individuals and to remember that you need to protect yourself.
Refrain from agreeing to provide an interview or a recorded statement to your employer or your employer’s insurance representative. You should request that any communication from these individuals be made in writing, and you should never agree to provide information or evidence that could be used against you without first consulting an attorney of your own. It is so important for you to establish contact with an attorney having experience in matters related to maritime law, offshore work-related injuries and other overseas worker compensation legal issues.
Knowing your rights, and understanding what type of compensation you may be eligible for based on your work situation and your injury, will help protect you from being taken advantage of by your employer and your employer’s insurance provider. You are provided certain protections and compensation when you are injured during your work overseas under various laws including, the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, and the Defense Base Act. An experienced attorney will be able to advise you on the options available to you and will be able to provide you guidance on how to proceed with your overseas work-related injury compensation claim.