Maintenance and Cure: Understanding & Protecting Your Rights

Occasionally, seamen on vessels become ill or sustain injuries while performing their job duties. If that occurs, it is important for those workers to understand they have certain rights under the law, particularly the general maritime law which provides for food, shelter, and medical care known as maintenance and cure. Many seamen consider maintenance and cure to be like ordinary workers’ compensation, but maintenance and cure generally covers more than typical workers’ compensation insurance. At Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we are aware of seamen’s rights under the law and our attorneys can help ensure your rights are protected.

What You Should Know About Maintenance

Maintenance and cure has long been a remedy for injured seamen. However, some employers either refuse to pay or delay payment, which can be financially devastating for an injured worker and his or her family. Accordingly, there are a few things injured seamen should keep in mind as they pursue their rights to maintenance and cure.

Seamen who fall ill or sustain injuries while performing their job duties are entitled to maintenance payments during the time in which they are under medical care. For years, the amount of maintenance paid was very low — in some cases, only $15 to $30 daily — but in general, an employer is required to pay what it would cost for the injured or ill seaman to live onshore in the same manner he or she lived while onboard the vessel.

Simply put, maintenance is a per diem or daily allowance to cover an injured worker’s living expenses while they are unable to work and getting medical care The employer and/or ship owner is required to provide this benefit until the seaman is declared to have reached maximum cure, the point at which further medical care will not improve the seafarer’s condition If an employer fails to make such payments, the seamen is strongly encouraged to contact a lawyer who will review the case and make a determination regarding whether or not bringing a lawsuit is the best course of action. If it is determined that litigation may be necessary, we at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. can help you file your claim.

About Your Right to “Cure”

Vessel owners are also required to provide medical care and, if necessary, rehab services to injured seamen until such time as the individual has reached his or her “maximum medical cure.” That means the employer or owner must provide care and/or rehab services until the worker has recovered from his or her injuries as much as medically possible. Additionally, injured seamen are not required to visit the employer’s choice of doctors. Instead, seamen must be permitted to visit doctors of their own choosing.

“Cure” benefits can cover things such as diagnostic tests, prescriptions, medical equipment, doctor’s appointments, surgery and out-of-pocket medical costs. Any injured seaman who is not receiving compensation to cover such needs should contact a Jones Act lawyer as soon as possible.

Get the Benefits to Which You are Entitled

The attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. handle all types of maritime cases throughout Florida and the United States. If you have questions or concerns about your rights to maintenance and cure, contact us online or by phone at 877-233-1238. We offer free initial consultations.