Injured Workers’ Rights under the Jones Act
Working on a ship or vessel is a dangerous job. Offshore workers and seamen face extreme conditions and hazards that can lead to serious injuries and accidents. Under the Jones Act when a seaman is injured in the course of employment, the seaman has the right to receive maintenance and cure payments from his or her employer. The primary purpose of the maintenance and cure payments are to provide the injured seaman with the medical care and day-to-day support needed to live on land until the seaman can return to work or has reached “maximum medical cure” (as defined below).
If you are a seaman who has been injured on the job, you are entitled to receive “maintenance” payments from your employer, regardless of who was at fault for your injuries. Maintenance payments are meant to cover your daily costs of living on land in the same manner you lived offshore on your vessel while you are recovering from your injuries. Under the Jones Act, you have the right to receive these payments until you return to work or reach “maximum medical cure.” Employers generally try to limit these payments to between $15 and $40 per day which is hardly enough to cover what it costs you to live on land in the same manner you lived offshore on your vessel. Depending upon the circumstances of your case, our firm will help to make sure that you are getting the maximum available of maintenance payments and other moneys that may be owed to you under your contract.
In addition to the maintenance payments, injured seamen also have the right to receive cure payments from their employers. Cure payments are compensation for the medical care you need to treat your injuries and recover from your accident. Similar to maintenance, you have the right to cure payments regardless of who was at fault for your injuries. Your employer’s obligation to pay for your medical expenses starts from the time of your injury until you have reached “maximum medical cure.” When you are injured, it is difficult to determine whether the company’s doctor is truly acting in your best interest. Our firm can help you find your own doctor who will provide you with the care and treatment you need to recover from your injuries.
Maximum Medical Cure.
Under the Jones Act, payments for maintenance and cure do not last forever. These payments will only continue until you have reached “maximum medical cure.” “Maximum medical cure” is the point at which your injury or condition will no longer improve despite additional medical treatment. This means that even if you have not fully recovered from your injuries, your cure benefits may stop if there is no further medical treatment available to help improve your condition.
What if my Employer Refuses to Pay Maintenance and Cure?
Even though maintenance and cure are ancient remedies which are owed to injured seamen under the law, employers often refuse to make these payments or take actions to delay the weekly maintenance checks the injured seaman desperately needs to live and help support his or her family. Some employers also use tactics to avoid paying medical expenses (cure), including refusing to send injured workers to qualified medical specialists who can provide the care and treatment the worker needs to properly recover from his or her injuries.
If you are a seaman who has been injured while working on a ship or vessel, you have the legal right to receive maintenance and cure benefits. If your employer has refused to make maintenance payments to you, is delaying your weekly checks, or is challenging your medical expenses or your right to go to your own doctor, you need to speak with a lawyer experienced in handling maintenance and cure benefits immediately. The Willis Law Firm has an in-depth understanding of the laws governing these payments and legal duties and we represent injured seamen nationwide. Contact our firm today for a free confidential consultation at 1-800-468-4878.