In the Jones Act case Adriatic Marine v. Harrington, an injured seaman filed multiple claims against his employer. Seeking your legal rights after a work accident is vital, but there are important consequences you need to know regarding failing to disclose past injuries. Discover the importance of reporting all your medical history with Mr. Harrington’s case.
Mr. Harrington’s Personal Injury Case
Mr. Harrington worked as an engineer for Adriatic Marine aboard its offshore supply vessel MV ADRIATIC. He sustained back injuries in a slip and fall accident inside the bilge near the port main engine. Following the fall, he asserted claims against his employer for:
- Jones Act negligence,
- unseaworthiness, and
- maintenance and cure (M&C).
The twist came when the defense investigation uncovered facts that were not in Mr. Harrington’s favor and concerned his pre-employment physical. The seaman completed a medical questionnaire when applying for his job where he denied any prior back injuries. However, he had indeed suffered a prior back injury.
Adriatic Marine asserted the McCorpen defense asking the Court to dismiss his M&C claim. Mr. Harrington contended that he did not understand the medical questionnaire. He also filed a claim for punitive damages. Did he manage to recover any M&C benefits?
The Weight of a Seaman’s Medical History
The Adriatic Marine’s investigation revealed that he had indeed sustained a prior back injury that he failed to disclose, which was the basis for Adriatic Marine’s denial of M&C. The New Orleans federal court agreed with Adriatic Marine and found that the engineer had willfully concealed his prior back injury. Also, the Court didn’t believe Mr. Harrington failed to understand the medical questionnaire because he was able to read and understand documents at his deposition.
This personal injury case shows how a seaman’s medical history can completely change the course of the lawsuit. Failure to give accurate answers during pre-employment physicals and in answering pre-employment medical questionnaires can lead to problems down the road. our vessel employer can assert the McCorpen defense to defeat your M&C claim. Consult with a maritime attorney to make sure you take the right legal action.