Maintenance and Cure: A Lawyer Explains How to Obtain Worker’s Compensation
Under the Jones Act & General Maritime Law some basic rights exists for a seaman injured in the course and scope of his or her employment. Maintenance and Cure are both ancient maritime remedies for seamen who are injured while in the service of a ship or vessel and are owed to them under the law.
Often however, the employer may refuse to pay the maintenance or delay the weekly maintenance checks creating financial difficulties and hardship on the injured seaman and his family. This tactic forces many workers to accept a much lower settlement than what their case may have been worth, sometimes while the seaman is still being treated by doctors and a full prognosis of his injury is not even known.
- Cure — you’re entitled to this no matter who was at fault in getting you hurt. The most basic of your rights is the right to medical care. Under the general maritime law (which applies to Jones Act Seamen), the employer is obligated to pay for reasonable medical care related to all medical conditions which manifest while you are in service to the vessel until the time your reach maximum medical cure.
- Maintenance — you’re also entitled to this no matter who was at fault. In addition to cure, you are entitled to receive “maintenance” during the time you are under medical care (before you reach maximum medical cure). The amount of maintenance is generally between $15->$40 per day. The rule is that the employer must pay you what it would cost for you to live on land in the same manner you lived offshore on the vessel. If however you were injured due to the negligence of your employer, the ship or vessel owners or other Jones Act or Maritime defendant, then you may have a right to file a separate Jones Act lawsuit or cause of action to recover potentially $100,000’s and much more. There have been thousands of maritime workers who didn’t hire a lawyer and just accepted the $15->$40 a day and never collected a red penny of their potential Jones Act cause of action. The employer many times will be your best friend and promise you the moon, until after the Statute of Limitations expires and then they are out of harm’s way. Remember there are Statute of Limitations that apply in every case. If you wait too long then you waive the right to ever collect.
- Settlement or Lawsuit under the Jones Act — In order to maintain a Jones Act claim or lawsuit, you have to prove fault on the employer. In addition to maintenance and cure, your employer may owe you damages for the things you have lost because of your injuries. To recover you must prove fault on the fault of the employer or unseaworthiness of the vessel. If you can prove liability, you are entitled to recover damages designed to make you whole under the law. These Jones Act damages include the seaman’s right to recover past and future lost wages or economic damages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement and medical expenses.
- Third (3rd) Party Lawsuit against Negligent Contractors, Suppliers and Other Legal Entities — there are many situations in which other parties may have been negligent in causing your injuries other than your employer’s own negligence or the unseaworthiness of the vessel. In those situations a separate 3rd party lawsuit may be filed. This may be filed with the Jones Act cause of action or independent of it.
If you are a seaman and have been injured on a ship or vessel and your employer is not paying your medical bills, refusing to send you to a medical specialist or not paying your maintenance, then contact a maintenance and cure lawyer for a Free Confidential Consultation at 1-800-468-4878.