Unique to the maritime industry, seamen who become ill or injured while working on a vessel are entitled to financial support from their employer while they’re out of work and until they fully recover. The Jones Act, a federal statute, vests maintenance and cure rights for seamen. Our experienced Clearwater maritime attorneys will know the tactics deployed by employers to avoid paying maintenance and cure benefits. It is important to note that maintenance and cure is a no-fault remedy – you will recover the benefits regardless of who caused the accident.
Maintenance refers to the money you’re entitled to from your employer while you recover from injuries or illness. Maintenance covers living expenses, including food and lodging, while you are out of work. If your employer does pay maintenance, it can often be minimal daily payments – inadequate for you or your and your family to live off. A repeated number of injured and sick seamen have taken their employers’ lowball money offers, relinquishing their claims for additional compensation. An experienced Clearwater Jones Act attorney can assist by getting you more money via an advance on your case.
Cure is the payment for medical care and services required to treat your injury or illness. Your employer is required to pay for your hospitalization expenses, surgeries, and medications while you recover and may pressure you to visit a company physician, but it is imperative you understand your right to an independent doctor. Maintenance and cure benefits will last until you reach your “maximum medical cure” which is the point where your injury or illness can no longer be improved by further medical care. If you have a permanent disability because of your injury or illness, you may be entitled to ongoing cure benefits for as long as you require medical treatment. Your employer may tell you to visit a company physician to determine whether you’ve achieved your “maximum medical cure,” however, it is critical you speak to an experienced Clearwater Jones Act attorney before taking such a step.
It is important to note that maintenance and cure benefits are separate from other forms of compensation, such as lost wages or damages for pain and suffering, or a Jones Act negligence/unseaworthiness claim.
Your recovery does not stop with asserting your right to maintenance and cure from your employer. You may have a Jones Act claim against your employer if your injuries were a result of negligence by your employer or by the unseaworthiness of the vessel. Many injured or sick seamen trust their employer and insurance company, but they are often trying to protect their financial assets, and will give you the lowest possible amount of money while the statute of limitations for your Jones Act negligence/or unseaworthiness claim passes by. The statute of limitations on maritime cases is short, but consulting with an experienced Clearwater Jones Act attorney as soon as possible preserves your right to file additional claims against your employer.