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Understanding Maintenance & Cure

Every seaman who is covered under the Jones Act has the basic right of maintenance and cure.

Hundreds of years ago, the government recognized that seaman faced extreme dangers on the job—and employers should be willing and ready to provide the support a seaman needs if injured while working.

For example, say you fell down a set of slick stairs on a ship and wrenched your back after you were directed to perform a task in adverse conditions. Since the accident, you have been in nearly constant pain and unable to work. You have accumulated a stack of medical bills and are worried about how you will provide for your family. That is where maintenance and cure comes in.

Any worker who suffers a serious injury or illness offshore legally deserves paid medical treatment and time to recover. Maintenance and cure is intended to provide an injured offshore worker with the medical expenses and finances needed to support themselves until they are able to return to work or have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). The lawful obligation of a maritime employer to pay maintenance and cure benefits to injured or ill crew is a well-established part of general maritime law. The law is clear about the rights of injured or sick seamen to maintenance and cure benefits—regardless of who or what caused their injury. Still, some maritime employers think they can pick and choose which benefits to pay for injured or sick offshore workers.

It is important to note that even if you hire an attorney to pursue legal action, you are still eligible to recover maintenance and cure benefits. Our law firm can help ensure you receive it.

What Is Covered Under Maintenance?

Maintenance benefits are provided to help cover basic daily expenses you may incur while recovering. In some cases, an employer may refuse to pay a seaman regular wages while they are injured; however, they legally cannot refuse to pay maintenance. Daily maintenance can help cover rent, food costs, transportation to and from a doctor, and other regular bills such as utilities or daily expenses. There is no set amount of maintenance required by the law, which is why many companies try to limit the amount they pay out to injured seaman. Arnold & Itkin can help you gather the necessary evidence to demonstrate your need for fair maintenance to cover your daily living costs.

What Is Covered Under Cure?

As it sounds, cure is intended to cover any medical expenses that may be incurred while a seaman is recovering or seeking treatment for any injuries, such as medical bills, medicine costs, and expenses for any medical tests or procedures needed. From a broken leg to a lung disease, this obligation can apply to any injury or illness a seaman suffers while they are working for a vessel. Cure benefits should be provided from the time of the injury up until the worker has recovered as much as possible (maximum medical improvement). A seaman also has every right to select their own medical provider to ensure they are getting a fair, honest evaluation of their condition.

Protecting Your Right to Benefits Under the Jones Act

Maritime workers are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits regardless of who is at fault for the accident. The law is on the side of injured maritime workers. The U.S. Supreme Court has said maintenance and cure benefits should be full and inclusive—a concept some maritime employers have trouble grasping.

Courts have found that maintenance benefits include reasonable expenses for rent, room, electricity, phone, food, and transportation. Some employers try to nickel and dime an injured seaman and pay outdated maintenance rates of $15 to $35 per day, claiming that is the cost of a bunk and meals aboard ship. Similarly some employers may try to pick and choose which medical services they will cover for injured or ill workers.

You need an experienced offshore injury lawyer to stand up for you and ensure your employer pays the full maintenance and cure benefits that you are justly owed.

Maritime Injury Attorney: Holding Employers Accountable

At our firm, we hold maritime employers accountable for providing full and inclusive maintenance and cure benefits. If you are interested in finding out more about what an attorney at our law office can do to assist you in seeking and recovering full benefits for your claim, feel free to call us for a free and confidential consultation.

Contact Arnold & Itkin to discuss maintenance and cure benefits for your claim.

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