Written by attorney Timothy Justin Young

Jones Act Coverage: How Maximum Cure is Determined

Under Jones Act coverage, maritime workers are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits in the event they are injured on the job. But maintenance and cure doesn’t last forever. Maintenance, which helps pay for daily living costs, room and board, and cure, which goes toward medical bills and treatment, only last until the worker has reached what’s called "maximum medical cure."

In addition to receiving maintenance and cure benefits, seamen who are injured as a result of negligence may be able to file a claim to recover further damages. Failure to provide benefits also could be considered grounds for a claim. A Louisiana maritime lawyer can help with the legal process.

Maximum Cure Under Jones

Jones Act coverage provides you funds until you’ve reached “maximum medical cure," which describes the point at which your condition or injury no longer can improve. This is determined by the overseeing doctor and states that you have reached the maximum point of recovery. If a victim is permanently disabled and there are no further treatments, this also may be considered maximum medical cure.

For example, if a worker falls and breaks his or her arm but never regains full mobility of the arm, benefits may stop, even though the worker has not recovered to his or her previous physical state before the accident. If no further treatment can help the arm get better, then this worker is said to have reached maximum improvement.

Sometimes employers and workers disagree on the point at which maximum cure has been reached. For example, if a worker has injured his or her arm, physical therapy may be recommended. In some cases, a patient may feel that he or she is continuing to get better and can benefit from further treatment, but the employer may attempt to claim that maximum recovery has been reached.

In some cases, an employer-assigned doctor may even falsely determine that a patient is no longer treatable, thus allowing the employer to stop providing benefits to the worker. Seeing other doctors may be helpful in countering this claim, so discuss this possibility with your doctor and Louisiana maritime attorney.

A Louisiana Maritime Lawyer Can Help

Filing a claim under the Jones Act against your employer could help reinstate your maintenance and cure benefits or provide you those benefits if you were denied previously.

Additionally, if your employer is found to violate Jones Act coverage by denying or delaying your benefits, you could be due punitive damages. These are additional damages intended to punish the employer for wrongdoing and to discourage further violations of the Jones Act. Punitive damages were awarded by the Supreme Court for the first time in a Jones Act case in 2009, in Atlantic Sounding v. Townsend.

You should be provided benefits until the point you no longer can get better. If your employer refuses to provide benefits, or you feel you were falsely determined to be at maximum medical cure, then you could have grounds for a Jones Act claim. Call (504) 680-4100 or (866) 938-6113 to speak a Louisiana maritime lawyer at The Young Firm. See our free online guide, _ Employee’s Guide to Maritime Injury Law_ to learn more about Jones Act coverage.

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