The Merchant Maritime Act of 1920, or Jones Act, states that any maritime worker injured while on the job is entitled to receive maintenance and cure benefits from their employers. Maintenance and cure pays for the day-to-day living expenses as well as medical expenses associated with the injury. These benefits are awarded regardless of how the off-shore accident happened and who is at fault.
Ideally, the right to maintenance and cure as provided by law should last until a worker is fully recovered, both emotionally and physically. Unfortunately, there are times an employer may attempt to deny an injured worker these benefits or try to rush the process in an attempt to get out of paying colossal maintenance and cure benefits.
Workers sent back to work prematurely face increased risks of worsening injuries. If you believe your employer is unfair regarding your maintenance and cure benefits, you have a right to seek legal redress. The experienced maritime attorneys at Morris Bart know how to help seamen and their families get justice and the compensation they deserve.
What Are Maintenance Benefits?
Maritime law defines maintenance as the daily living allowances that an injured maritime worker receives. An injured seaman is usually given a specified amount of financial compensation from the day they got injured until their full medical recovery.
As mentioned earlier, maintenance is given to an injured maritime worker whether the employer was at fault for their injuries or not. This means an employer is required by law to pay sufficient compensation to sustain the livelihood of an injured worker and cover basic needs. Some expenses that fall under this category include:
- Property taxes
- Rent and mortgage
- Homeowner’s insurance
It is important to keep in mind that maintenance only covers basic living expenses, meaning that other needs such as cable TV, internet, and entertainment items are not covered. Essentially, these items are deemed not related to the running of a household.
If you have questions regarding which part of your expenses falls under maintenance or cure, our experienced attorneys will gladly provide the answers. Speak to our lawyers today about your situation.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 537-8185
What Are Cure Benefits?
Cure provides compensation for any medical expenses associated with injuries that maritime workers sustain while undertaking their duties. Just like maintenance, a seaman’s employer is by law required to meet any and all medical expenses that their employees sustain while on the job. Common medical expenses that cure compensates include:
- Hospital and doctor bills
- Medication expenses
- Cost of surgery
- Medical equipment costs including crutches, wheelchairs
- Physical therapy
- MRI and CT scan costs
If you are unsure whether a cost related to your injury qualifies as a cure expense, preserve the evidence of any payments until you speak with an experienced attorney. These may include invoices, receipts, and any other documentation reflecting payments you make to access medical care.
Notably, an injured worker’s right to cure lasts for the entire period it takes for them to recover and be physically able to return to work completely. In most cases, a doctor has to give a release form before cure benefits are terminated.
Do Maintenance and Cure Pay for Disabling Illnesses?
In addition to typical injuries, maintenance and cure also compensate seamen who end up with disabling illnesses or medical conditions while serving on a vessel. Keep in mind before you receive this kind of benefit, you have to prove the illness or condition developed while working onboard a ship.
The compensation ends once the seaman receives the maximum medical improvement (MMI) paperwork from their doctor stating the worker has improved substantially.
Can I Choose My Doctor Under Maintenance and Cure?
As an injured seaman, you have the right to choose your preferred physician. If your employer provides a doctor for your medical exam, you have a right to obtain a second opinion from your own doctor.
What Is the Payment Schedule for Maintenance and Cure Benefits?
Maintenance benefits are usually paid weekly or biweekly for the entire period the employer is obligated to make the payments. The employer has an obligation to pay cure benefits by paying the injured seaman’s medical bills directly.
The Jones Act provides a technique to calculate the amount of maintenance and cure payments that an eligible injured worker is entitled to receive. It is crucial to keep diligent records of all your costs so you can prove your expenses effectively during the claims process.
Union Membership Can Impact Your Maintenance and Cure Benefits
In some situations, being a union member can determine the number of benefits you will receive. Members of a union are usually entitled to a predetermined amount of maintenance, regardless of their actual living expenses.
For example, if an injured worker’s union contract states the maintenance rates are $1000 per month, then that will be the rate no matter what. However, this rule may not apply in some parts of the country. If you are a unionized maritime worker and have been injured while on the job, contact an experienced maritime lawyer to determine if your contract is under union maintenance rules.
What Happens If an Employer Refuses to Pay Maintenance and Cure?
Some employers may refuse to pay for maintenance and cure even when they are under clear obligations to do so. In such a case, the injured maritime worker has a right to seek legal representation. In most cases, the courts award the injured seaman a settlement amount that is much higher than the maintenance and cure payment the employer would have paid.
Contact an Experienced Maritime Attorney Today for Help
Having an experienced and knowledgeable maritime lawyer on your side can help protect your legal rights and receive your rightful compensation. At Morris Bart, our experienced attorneys can help strengthen your claim and negotiate higher maintenance and cure payment. Our goal is to expedite the compensation process and ensure that more of your medical expenses are considered cure benefits.
Contact us today for a free consultation and no-obligation legal advice regarding your maritime injury case.
Questions?Call (800) 537-8185
to find a Morris Bart office near you.