Why Offshore Workers Need to Seek More Than “Maintenance and Cure”
Morrow & Sheppard LLP’s maritime attorneys explain why offshore workers need to seek more than just “maintenance and cure” after an on-the-job injury.
Maintenance and Cure for Offshore WorkersFor offshore workers who qualify as "seamen" under the Jones Act, suffering an injury on the job often means filing a claim for "maintenance and cure." Maintenance and cure benefits provide coverage for injured workers' medical expenses and a portion of their daily living expenses, and the law requires employers to pay regardless of who was at fault in the accident.
If you have been injured offshore, it is important that you file for maintenance and cure. While many employers will not pay without a fight, in comparison to seeking other forms of compensation, securing maintenance and cure benefits can still be a relatively-straightforward process.
But, it is also important that you not solely rely on maintenance and cure. Any benefits you receive are likely to be far less than the full extent of your losses, and an experienced maritime injury attorney will be able to fight to recover the full compensation you deserve.
The Limits of "Maintenance and Cure"Under the Jones Act, maintenance and cure benefits provide limited coverage for two types of injury-related losses:
o Maintenance- Maintenance benefits are intended to help cover your living expenses while you are unable to work. However, benefit amounts are determined based upon your cost of living at sea (not on land), and are typically only around $30 to $50 per day.
o Cure- Cure benefits are intended to cover your medical expenses resulting from your job-related injury. While your employer may direct you to see a company physician, you have the right to see your own doctor and receive an independent diagnosis.
But, even these limited benefits do not last forever. If your injury results in a permanent disability, your employer can cease payment of benefits based upon the fact that you have reached what is known as "maximum medical improvement."
Losses Not Covered by "Maintenance and Cure"Perhaps the best way to understand the limits of maintenance and cure is to understand the types of losses that are not covered by these no-fault benefits. After a serious on-the-job injury, seamen frequently suffer losses that include:
o Future medical expenses for treatment of permanent injuries
o Lost wages that exceed the amount of "maintenance" provided
o Lost future earning potential due to a full or partial disability
o Pain, suffering and emotional distress
o Scarring and disfigurement
o Loss of companionship, consortium and enjoyment of life
None of these losses are covered by maintenance and cure. But, they are covered by other claims for compensation.
Jones Act Negligence and Other Compensation ClaimsWhile maintenance and cure are "no-fault" benefits, frequently, someone else will be to blame when an offshore worker gets injured on the job. When this is the case, injured seamen can seek full compensation for all of their accident-related losses.
For example, employers can be held fully-liable even for "slight" negligence under the Jones Act, and the law of unseaworthiness makes vessel owners liable for all injuries resulting from dangerous conditions onboard. Injured offshore workers will often have other claims as well, and the key to maximizing their financial compensation is to consult an experienced maritime injury as soon as possible.
Contact a Jones Act Lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard LLPIf you have been injured working offshore and would like to speak with an attorney, contact Morrow & Sheppard LLP for a free, confidential consultation. To learn more about your rights, call (800) 489-2216 or request an appointment online today.