Maritime lawyers will tell you that the biggest frustration in their practice comes when they meet people who have unknowingly and unwittingly signed off all their rights to a claim for a meager settlement from their employer. A recent case illustrates just how important it is that you retain all your rights and not get taken in by the company’s sweet talk.
In Mccuiston v. Coastal Catering LLC, Mccuiston worked as a cook on a vessel and suffered serious neck and back injuries in two separate fall accidents. Soon, after he entered into a release of claim agreement with the company, under which he signed off all his future rights to any claim for the grand sum of $2,000.
Mccuiston here was not represented by a maritime lawyer, and in the absence of informed counsel, went ahead and released any rights to a claim. He later went ahead and sued Coastal Catering, Tetra Applied Technologies which operated the vessel, and Southern States Brokerage which owned the vessel. However, Coastal moved for summary judgment, claiming that Mccuiston had not only settled his claim with the company, but had also withheld important information about previous back, leg and knee injuries.
As maritime lawyers, we can’t stress the following enough:
1. Never sign of any papers that your company shoves under your face after an offshore injury, unless you speak with a maritime attorney and understand all the consequences of doing so.
2. Be upfront and honest about all your previous injuries and any preexisting medical conditions when you sign up for employment. Hiding prior injuries can weaken your claim. It doesn’t make you look great in the eyes of a jury if they hear that you have lied or you have forgotten to mention previous medical conditions.
Contact us at [email protected] or toll-free at (713) 364-0723 for free information about maritime injury law, longshore claims or maritime piracy. If you think you may have an offshore injury case, contact a maritime law firm. We will confidentially speak with you about your injury and answer your questions about maritime law. No matter where you live, Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers can help you get the help you need.