Maintenance and Cure: Am I Entitled to It?

Jones Act Feb 14, 2023

Maintenance and cure benefits are available to injured maritime and offshore workers who qualify as “seamen” under the Jones Act. Are you eligible to file for maintenance and cure? Here is what you need to know.

Who Qualifies as a Jones Act “Seaman?”

While the Jones Act establishes a number of specific requirements for establishing “seaman” status, generally speaking, a seaman is anyone who works onboard a vessel in navigation on open water. Eligible vessels include:

  • Barges and lay barges
  • Crew boats
  • Cruise ships
  • Fishing vessels
  • Freighters
  • Jack-up rigs
  • Movable rigs
  • Semi-submersibles
  • Supply boats
  • Tankers
  • Towboats and tugs
  • Other river and offshore vessels

In order to be eligible for maintenance and cure, you must be able to prove that you were injured onboard your vessel. If you slipped and fell or were hit by a piece of material handling equipment (MHE) at the port, for example, other laws may apply.

Workers who will typically qualify as seamen under the Jones Act include crew members and others who are assigned to fleets of vessels. Longshoremen, harbor workers, pilots, and administrative personnel who work on land do not qualify as seamen, but they can seek compensation for job-related injuries under other laws.

Offshore Injuries that are Eligible for Maintenance and Cure

Since maintenance and cure are “no-fault” benefits, virtually all offshore injuries are eligible for compensation. As a result, the key in most cases is establishing when and where the injury occurred. You do need to prove the cause of your injury to seek maintenance and cure, but proving causation is critical to seeking additional forms of compensation.

Types of injuries that are eligible for maintenance and cure include:

  • Back and spinal cord injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Brain injuries
  • Eye, ear and nose injuries
  • Facial injuries
  • Injuries from falling objects and collisions with objects
  • Injuries from slips and falls
  • Severe cuts and bruises
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Other serious injuries

When you get injured on inland rivers or offshore, it is critical that you see your own doctor. You are entitled to coverage for all of your injury-related medical expenses (this is the “cure” portion of maintenance and cure), and if you see a ship or company doctor he or she may only prescribe the minimum treatment required to get you back on deck. An independent physician (i.e. one who does not get paid by your employer) will be able to provide you with a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan that has your best interests in mind.

Statute of Limitations for Jones Act Claims

Under the Jones Act, the general rule is that you have three years from the date of your injury to file for maintenance and cure. But exceptions apply, and you do not want to wait any longer than is absolutely necessary to file your claim. If you wait too long, you could lose the ability to claim the benefits you deserve. To be on the safe side, don’t wait to get legal advice as filing dates on some individual or third-party causes of actions or lawsuits can run within one year form the date of the injury.

Get Help for Your Maintenance and Cure Claim Today

If you would like to speak with an experienced maritime attorney about filing for maintenance and cure, contact Willis Law Firm. For a free and confidential consultation, call 1-800-GOT-HURT or submit your case online today.

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