Maritime law states that you are entitled to receive maintenance and cure benefits for any injury which you suffered “in the service of the vessel” regardless of how the injury occurred. This includes maritime injuries which may have occurred through your own fault or injuries which simply arose while you were working without any particular cause or accident.
You are entitled to maintenance and cure even if you cannot identify a specific accident or event which caused your injury, as long as your injury began while you were “in the service of the vessel”.
General maritime law places an obligation on the employer to provide any injured employee with “maintenance and cure”. The law is very much on the side of the injured worker when it comes to maintenance and cure, so it is important that you are aware of your rights should the time come when you need to invoke them.
Maintenance is defined as the amount of money it costs to maintain yourself on land as your company does at sea. Maintenance benefits are a daily payment made to you by your employer sufficient for you to pay your expenses on land for the items which were provided to you while you were offshore.
Generally speaking, maintenance includes:
Unfortunately, most maritime companies pay a very low rate of maintenance which has nothing to do with your actual expenses on land. In our experience as maintenance and cure lawyers, most companies pay a rate of maintenance of $15.00 to $40.00 a day. This rate of maintenance has absolutely nothing to do with the law which clearly states that your rate of maintenance should be enough for you to pay your monthly bills while you are injured. If you do not believe you are receiving the proper rate of maintenance, please contact our maritime injury attorneys so that we can help you.
According to maritime law, all questions or ambiguities with regard to maintenance and cure must be settled in favor of the injured seaman. It is imperative that you receive the maintenance rate appropriate for your specific case so that you are able to pay your expenses while you are unable to work. Don’t settle for what the company thinks they can get away with paying you; insist on what you actually need.
Cure in maritime law is defined as reasonable medical expenses that are related to your injury which occurred while you were in the service of the vessel. You are entitled to receive medical treatment until you reach the point at which your condition can no longer improve. Unfortunately the definition of “cure” does not include treatment simply to relieve your pain. Under the definition of “cure,”, the treatment being provided by your physician must result in a betterment of your condition otherwise your maritime employer will not be required to pay for such treatment under the law of maintenance and cure. However, please note that other medical expenses including treatment for pain are recoverable under your Jones Act claim.
You have the right to choose your own doctor…and the company has to pay for it.
The injured worker has the right to choose his or her own physician, and the company is obligated to pay for all medical expenses that result from the injury you incurred while working. Your maritime employer should pay for your medical expenses from your choice of treating physician.
Our attorneys have found that often, maritime employers will require an injured worker to go to a company doctor for initial treatment and a medical report. Then, if the company doctor states that the injured worker does not need further treatment, the maritime employer will use this as an excuse to refuse further medical treatment.
It is very important that you see your own physician immediately following your injury so that you can avoid this common trap.
You are entitled to future medical expenses which may be necessary due to your maritime injury.
Many injured workers will try to resolve their maritime injury case themselves and simply have their employer pay some amount of money for future medical expenses.
It is impossible to guess or estimate the cost of your future medical expenses unless you have been to qualified independent physicians who have performed significant medical testing to determine your condition as well as your prognosis for the future.
Our office has handled numerous cases in which independent physicians have identified future medical costs which would have never been identified by company doctors. Basic, but sophisticated, medical testing is necessary to properly handle your maritime injury claim and our lawyers are familiar with these tests.
If your company does not pay maintenance and cure, you as an injured maritime worker have the right to take your claim to court and argue that your company was both unreasonable and arbitrary in their refusal to pay your maintenance and cure.
If the court rules that your company has been unreasonable, it is possible you will be awarded attorney fees you incurred while filing the suit to receive proper maintenance and cure.
If your company is also found to be arbitrary in their refusal to pay, you may collect additional damages for the worsening of your condition due to your company’s refusal to provide you with the maintenance and cure to which you are entitled.
Your claim to maintenance and cure benefits is a separate claim from your liability case against your employer or any responsible third parties for your maritime injury.
If you have been injured on the job and you are not receiving fair maintenance and cure from your employer, contact our office today for a free consultation. If you have any questions about maritime law, and your right to medical expenses, contact our lawyers at The Young Firm (serving New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the Gulf Coast region).
We have helped many injured maritime workers obtain money for future medical expenses and we can discuss your rights with you. We may even be able to arrange for medical treatment and testing.
The Young Firm fights exclusively for maritime workers, and we are a 100% maritime law firm. You are in good hands with us.