Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit without legal advice can make you vulnerable to your vessel employer’s and its insurer’s harmful tactics. Sophisticated Jones Act employers and their insurers often use a common post-accident tactic called the forum selection clause. As you are aware, the liable parties would do anything to minimize your claim. Learn how to protect your interest.
What Is a Forum Selection Clause?
A forum selection clause within a contract is designed to allow the parties involved to settle a dispute in a specific court. But there is more to this contractual agreement than meets the eye.
Generally, courts will give effect to such agreements as long as they are not unjust, contrary to public policy, or fraudulent. That’s why vessel employers call an adjuster to help them have you agree on their terms and sign a forum selection clause.
Handle Forum Selection Agreements With Caution
The clause usually goes hand in hand with the offer to have the advances on your lost wages covered. This is a part of the agreement that you sign providing that any advances paid will be deducted or included in the final settlement of your claim.
But, be careful because the forum selection agreement requires you to file your lawsuit in a court of their choosing. The vessel employer will usually include a court in the city where the company maintains a home office or a large presence so that they get a “hometown” advantage.
It is important that you consult with an experienced maritime attorney who can help you navigate these dangerous agreements, especially given that an early settlement is riskier for injured seamen. Discover more about early settlement problems.