What Does “Maintenance and Cure” Actually Mean for an Injured Seaman?
Offshore work is a particularly dangerous line of employment that comes with a high risk of injury. To offset the very real possibility of being hurt on a vessel, there are laws in place to protect workers who suffer accidents at sea. Unfortunately, those laws use archaic terms like “maintenance” and “cure” that aren’t exactly clear to anyone outside the legal community.
Recovering Financially After a Louisiana Offshore Accident Injury
Even under ideal conditions, there are a large number of ways to suffer serious injuries, whether you work on a longliner boat, seafood processing vessel, or something else entirely. When employer negligence is added in, those risks go up.
The good news is that the Jones Act provides a safety net to anyone hurt while working offshore vessels in areas like the Gulf of Mexico. That law requires employers to cover various employee expenses for injuries.
Cure and maintenance are available if you became ill due to contact with a substance on the vessel, slipped and fell, were knocked overboard, or suffered any other type of accident injury.
This half of the equation specifically covers various medical expenses until you either return to work or reach the point of maximum medical recovery. “Cure” specifically includes:
- Costs associated with long-term disability caused by the accident
- Hospital bills
- Prescription medication costs
- Test and procedure expenses
While “cure” handles the medical side, “maintenance” instead involves your normal, everyday living expenses. That’s particularly important if you aren’t currently earning a wage because the injury prevents you from working. Costs associated with maintenance include:
- Transportation to or from doctor visits or treatment appointments
- Utilities (electricity, water, etc. but specifically does not cover internet or phone bills)
Why You Should Talk to an Attorney After a Maritime Injury
Although the law is clear that injured workers should be protected financially, it isn’t uncommon for employers to pay less than you actually deserve. Your maintenance stipend may be a significantly lower amount than it actually costs to cover room and board. Cure is often woefully inadequate for medical expenses as well.
Thankfully, a lawyer can help overcome those problems by providing documentation showing the fair amount you should actually receive. Simply having a lawyer on your side also makes your employer more likely to provide the full amount you deserve instead of trying to reduce or deny your claim. There are other legal considerations you should discuss with an attorney, like the statute of limitations on pursuing a claim or filing a lawsuit for your injury.
It’s also important to note that “maintenance and cure” are specifically provided for certain maritime injuries under one specific law. If you don’t qualify as a seaman under that law, then maintenance and cure from the Jones Act aren’t available. That doesn’t leave people who work on the docks or aren’t legally considered seamen out of luck, however.
There are critical legal differences to take into account depending on exactly where you were hurt. For instance, the specific law used to pursue compensation varies between seamen hurt in navigable waters versus someone injured while working as a stevedore. You may need to recover damages through options provided by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act instead.
That’s why it’s important to speak with a qualified Louisiana maritime attorney as soon as possible after suffering an injury on the job. You deserve someone in your corner who understands these differences and has extensive experience in maritime litigation.
Talk to a Louisiana Maritime Attorney if You’ve Been Denied Maintenance and Cure After an Injury
Did you take a financial hit after an accident at sea and aren’t sure what to do next? The Scott Vicknair law firm is dedicated to protecting your legal right to compensation whether you are a shrimper, longshoreman, or work any other maritime job. Injured seamen can contact us here or call directly to schedule a consultation and discuss your case at 504-500-1111.