Am I Entitled to Maintenance and Cure Benefits If I’m an Injured Seaman?
Seamen and other types of maritime workers don’t qualify for state worker’s compensation benefits when they become injured or ill while on-the-job. Instead, they collect benefits known as maintenance and cure.
Under general maritime law, a qualifying seaman is entitled to receive maintenance and cure benefits while they recover from an on-the-job accident or illness. They are allowed to collect these benefits until their doctor determines they’ve achieved Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). A seaman is not required to show that their injuries or illness resulted from negligence or the unseaworthiness of a vessel in order to collect maintenance and cure benefits.
Qualifying For Maintenance And Cure Benefits
To qualify for maintenance and cure benefits, a seaman must show that they became injured or fell ill while in the service of the ship.
In most cases, an injured seaman has up to three years from the date of their accident or illness in which to file for maintenance and cure benefits. However, it’s usually best to file as soon as possible.
What Are Maintenance Benefits?
A maritime employer has an obligation to pay maintenance benefits when a seaman is unable to work due to a job-related injury or illness. Maintenance benefits provide for their room and boarding expenses while they recover from their injuries. These payments only cover necessary expenses, such as food and rent, utility bills, mortgage payments, homeowners insurance, and similar expenses. Maintenance doesn’t provide for non-necessary expenses such as car payments, phone plans, internet, etc.
How much can they expect to collect? In most cases, maintenance benefits pay $30 – $50 a day. A seaman may be able to negotiate for a higher compensation if the amount is not sufficient to cover their necessary expenses.
What Are Cure Benefits?
Cure benefits cover an injured seaman’s reasonable and necessary medical expenses. These can include doctor and lab fees, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, medical equipment (such as a wheelchair), and transportation costs for getting to and from necessary medical treatment. The injured seaman is entitled to receive cure benefits until they reach the point of maximum medical improvement.
What Is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)?
An employer must pay maintenance and cure benefits until the injured seaman has reached maximum medical improvement. MMI occurs when a doctor determines that a seaman is as “cured” as their ever going to be and that any further medical treatment will not improve their condition. This doesn’t mean the injured seaman doesn’t still require medical treatment; it just means that the injured seaman is no longer entitled to benefits because their condition can no longer be improved.
Do You Need a Maritime Attorney To File A Maintenance And Cure Claim?
Maintenance and cure are no-fault benefits; in most instances, a claim can be handled without the need for an attorney. However, there are situations where the representation of a New Orleans maritime attorney may be required:
- An employer delays or refuses to pay maintenance and cure.
- Maintenance and cure benefits are insufficient to cover the injured seaman’s living or medical expenses.
- A company doctor has determined the injured seaman has reached the point of MMI even though they are still unable to return to work.
- The accident that caused the seaman’s injury resulted from the negligent actions of their employer.
In addition to maintenance and cure benefits, the Jones Act also gives seamen the right to seek compensation for any damages resulting from injuries caused by the negligence of an employer. General maritime law also allows for seeking remedy from the owner of an unseaworthy vessel. Damages in a Jones Act lawsuit can include current and anticipated medical expenses, lost wages and employment, pain, and suffering. An experienced maritime law attorney can help the injured seaman accurately appraise their losses and damages, investigate their claim, negotiate with their employer’s insurance company and represent the seaman in court.
Speak to a Maritime Attorney about Your Accident
If you’re a seaman who is unable to work because of an on-the-job injury, the law firm of Lewis, Kullman, Sterbcow & Abramson, LLC is here to ensure you receive the total compensation you deserve for your injuries, including maintenance and cure benefits.
Lewis, Kullman, Sterbcow & Abramson, LLC is among the finest maritime and admiralty law litigation firms in the country. Our maritime accident lawyers have played a crucial role in many of the most important maritime cases in the last 40 years — including those that define the requirements for a person and a vessel to be governed by the Jones Act.
You can contact the law offices of LKSA, LLC through our website, or call us at (800) 960-1526 as soon as possible after your accident to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Jones Act attorney.