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How is a seaman protected if injured on the job?

Being injured on the job can be devastating physically and financially for anyone in New York. If you are a seaman who has been hurt in the line of duty, you are not covered under the workers’ compensation laws that protect most employees on land. However, in many circumstances, your employer may still be liable to pay the resulting medical costs, living expenses and lost wages.

The United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit explain that once you have proved certain facts to the jury, you are entitled to certain financial compensation. You must be able to provide evidence that the money is owed to you. You must also prove that the harm occurred while you were performing work responsibilities for the vessel and under the employment of its company.

You are not automatically disqualified from receiving compensation if your accident was due to your own carelessness. However, if you were performing your duties while intoxicated, or you were engaged in some other form of intentional misconduct such as horseplay, your employer does not owe you compensation.

If the jury rules in your favor, your employer’s responsibility includes paying for your medical expenses such as doctor’s appointments, examinations, medication and hospitalization. These costs are known as “cure.” You may also be eligible to receive compensation for living expenses such as room and board, which are included in “maintenance” costs. However, while you are hospitalized you would not receive money for room and board since these are provided by the health care facility during your stay.

Maintenance and cure are only awarded to cover expenses that you sustain from the time your ship left land until the time when a health care provider indicates you have reached the best recovery possible. They do not include any lost wages.

If your injury becomes worse because your employer refused to pay the money owed to you, the company may be responsible for the extended costs of care, as well as the original settlement. This is not a complete listing of the conditions that could affect a maintenance and cure case. Therefore, the information should not be interpreted as legal advice. 

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