Maintenance and cure is a basic right of all Jones Act seamen. If you’ve suffered a work-related injury, your employer must pay your general living expenses (maintenance) to replace lost wages, as well as all medical expenses (cure).
You don’t need to prove negligence or fault in order to recover Maintenance and Cure benefits following an injury. These benefits remain payable until you’re fit for duty or you’ve reached a point where medical treatment is no longer helpful.
These benefits are in addition to any other damages paid out from a separate Jones Act negligence claim.
What is Covered Under Maintenance?
Maintenance refers to the room and board of an injured seaman while recovering from an injury at home. Originally, the concept of maintenance meant the employer’s obligation to provide room and board while a seaman was serving on a ship.
These days, maintenance includes expenses such as a worker’s rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, taxes, and food. Maintenance does not include unnecessary household expense for things like internet, phone, or car payments.
What is Covered Under Cure?
Your employer must cover your injury-related medical expenses for treatment, rehabilitation, and recovery. This includes expenses for transportation to get to and from medical appointments.
Similar to workers’ compensation benefits for injured land-based employees, injured seaman don’t have to pay anything toward their medical treatment for work-related injuries.
Maintenance and Cure Also Applies to Illnesses
Maintenance and cure also applies to illnesses. If you’ve come down with a serious illness or medical condition while working aboard a ship at sea, you are entitled to maintenance and cure payments while you are out of work recovering.
These benefits remain payable until you are fully recovered from your illness, even if it wasn’t caused by your work or the vessel you work on.
How Long is an Injured Seaman Entitled to Maintenance and Cure?
If you’ve been injured while working at sea or you’ve been struck by an illness, you’re entitled to receive Maintenance and Cure payments until you reach a point of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMI is the point when your condition can no longer be improved by further medical care.
Generally, when a doctor thinks that a patient is at MMI, the seaman will be discharged from care and the Maintenance and Cure benefits will stop. The seaman may not have fully recovered from the injury, but their condition isn’t expected to improve any further.
The same statute of limitation — three years — applies to a claim for Maintenance and Cure as it does to a Jones Act negligence claim or a claim for unseaworthiness.
What If an Employer Refuses to Pay Maintenance and Cure?
Employers are obligated under maritime law to pay maintenance and cure benefits to injured or ill crewmembers, and this is an accepted and well-established part of general maritime law. In fact, the law is clear about the rights of injured or sick seamen to Maintenance and Cure, regardless of what caused the injury or illness or who might be at fault.
If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident or fallen sick while working at sea and your employer is refusing to pay Maintenance and Cure benefits, you should get in touch with a knowledgeable maritime attorney who can review your case and assist you in getting the full benefits you are entitled to under maritime law.
Your Rights to Damages After a Work-Related Injury at Sea
It’s important to know that you’re entitled to more than just Maintenance and Cure if you’ve suffered a maritime injury. These benefits are separate to compensation you may recover under the Jones Act for negligence or unseaworthiness.
While maintenance and cure will help you pay for your general living and medical expenses, seeking damages under the Jones Act means you may be able to also recover compensation for loss of earnings, and pain and suffering. That’s why it’s critical you speak with a qualified maritime attorney who can inform you of your rights, help you file a Jones Act claim, and get you the compensation you deserve.
Free and Confidential Evaluation of Your Case
If you would like to find out more about your legal rights after suffering an injury at work, take advantage of our free consultation. You can learn more about what benefits you may be entitled to and how our experienced maritime attorneys can help. We handle all our cases on a no win, no fee basis, which means you will pay attorney fees only if we are successful in getting you compensation.