If you are a seaman who has suffered a serious injury in a work-related accident, you will not be able to collect state workers’ compensation benefits to cover your lost wages and the costs of the medical care you need to recover from your injuries. Instead, you will be entitled to receive certain benefits under the Jones Act.
The Jones Act is a federal statute that provides legal protection to individuals who are members of the crew of a ship or vessel. If you are worker who is covered under the Jones Act you will be able to receive maintenance and cure benefits from your employer. These benefits are absolute – meaning when you are injured in the course of your employment, your employer must automatically provide you with these benefits regardless of who may be at fault for your accident.
What Can I Expect to Receive?
- Maintenance. Seamen who are injured or become in ill while in the service of a ship or vessel are entitled to receive maintenance payments from their employers. The general rule is that your employer must cover your basic living expenses, such as room and board. Most companies will only pay a standard per diem rate, which can run as low as $20-40 per day, and in some cases even lower. Your employer is required to pay your maintenance benefits up until the time that a doctor has determined that you have reached “maximum medical cure.” Under the Jones Act, maximum medical cure is defined as the point in time in which your injury or illness will no longer improve even if you continue to receive medical treatment.
- Cure. In addition to maintenance payments, the Jones Act also requires employers to pay injured or sick seaman cure benefits. Cure benefits are meant to compensate you for the cost of the medical care and services you need to treat your injury or illness. Your employer is obligated to pay for your reasonable medical care from the onset of your injury or illness up until the time you have reached maximum medical cure.
Some Employers Will Try to Avoid Making These Payments
While most companies will act honestly and try to do the right thing, there are employers out there who will use different tactics to avoid their financial responsibilities. In some cases an employer may attempt to pay a maintenance rate that is far lower than what is needed to cover your living expenses. In other instances, your employer may take actions to delay your payments. If this occurs, it is very important to contact our firm immediately. We will stand up to your employer and fight for your right to receive the full benefits you are legally entitled to.
Employers may also try to limit your cure payments. For example, your employer may try to force you to receive your care from the company’s doctor rather than sending you to a specialist who has the medical training and expertise necessary to properly treat your condition or the employer may not agree to pay for more extensive testing needed to medically diagnosis your condition. It is important to know you have the right to select your own medical provider. If you are being bullied by your employer, our firm will step in and make certain you get the care you need to recover from your illness or injuries.
Contact Us – Punitive Damages May Be Available
If your employer fails to pay the maintenance and cure benefits that you are legally entitled to, we may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer to collect the full benefits you are due along with certain damages.
In these types of cases, if a court finds there was no justification for your employer’s failure to pay your maintenance and cure benefits, your employer may be held liable for punitive damages as well as attorney’s fees. If you are dealing with this type of situation, you need to take quick action to protect your legal rights. Contact our firm today for a free, confidential consultation at 1-800-468-4878.