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Maintenance & Cure Archives

The limits of maintenance and cure benefits

Given the risks associated with employment in the maritime industry, it is easy to imagine one who is injured at sea requiring an extensive recovery period in Manhattan before he or she is fit to return to work (that is, if he or she is indeed able to return to work at all). The financial losses that result from not being able to work for a significant period of time can be massive, yet in the case the of maritime workers injured while employed in the service of their vessels, maintenance and cure benefits are meant to mitigate them. 

Accepting an advance in conjunction with maintenance and cure

Many of the maritime workers in Manhattan who have been injured while on the job find that while the maintenance and cure payments they are entitled to receive are helpful, they are often not enough to cover both their injury-related expenses as well as the cost of daily living. Thus, they may be put in a position of needing to seek more compensation. Some employers might offer an advance on a seaman's wages on top of maintenance and cure payments. While this might seem advantageous, one should consider the implications of accepting such assistance. 

Highlighting union restrictions on maintenance and cure

You understand that there are certain risks associated with your career in the maritime industry. You also take comfort in the knowledge that there are laws in place and organizations working to help protect you from those risks. One such law is the Jones Act, which entitles you to maintenance and cure to help deal with the expenses that accompany injuries you sustain at sea. You might also be afforded certain protections through your membership in a labor union. Yet several of the clients that we here at Tabak, Mellusi & Shisha LLP have worked with have been surprised to learn the sometimes those two support venues can be at odds with each other. 

Understanding who qualifies as a seaman

For those in Manhattan who work at sea, it may seem as though every day that an employment-related injury keeps them stuck on the shore represents lost wages and benefits. Fortunately, there are specific rules and regulations in place that entitle such an individual to maintenance and cure. As has been detailed on this blog before, maintenance is meant to cover all of a wounded sea worker's daily expenses, while cure helps in paying their medical costs. Yet before one injured while on the high seas (or preparing to embark for them) begins to plan on receiving this benefit, he or she should first seek to understand if he or she evens qualifies for it. 

Attorney fees added to award after maintenance and cure denial

An injury suffered in the service of a vessel may render a seaman unable to support him- or herself in New York. Often, swift medical attention is needed to prevent the damage from worsening. Having a safe place to stay during treatment may also be critical to recovery. Without maintenance and cure to cover the costs of these, a seaman may suffer more harm. However, taking the company to court may be a time-consuming and costly endeavor that further harms the seaman's financial status.

What if a company refuses to pay cure?

After a serious injury aboard a vessel, you may expect the owner to pay for your medical expenses as you convalesce in New York. However, in some cases, seamen have had to take their employers to court in order to receive maintenance and cure that the law says should be theirs. In one case reported by FindLaw, the court found in favor of the men who were injured in a barge accident

Negligence not relevant for maintenance and cure

When a New York seaman is injured on a vessel, the owner is required to pay for medical bills, lodging, transportation and food until the seaman either returns to work or improves as much as he or she can under medical care. According to the U.S. Courts for the Ninth Circuit, these expenses are known as maintenance and cure and are rights that seamen have as long as they can fulfill the burden of proof.

What is maintenance and cure?

Workers in New York can typically receive compensation for on-the-job injuries through workers’ compensation. As a seaman, this coverage is not available for you. However, according to the U.S. Courts for the Ninth Circuit, federal law does require your employer to provide financial assistance when you have medical needs because of a physical condition that arose while you were in service on the vessel.

Illnesses such as cancer may be covered by maintenance and cure

Health conditions that occur while a New Yorker is working on a vessel at sea may lead to hefty medical bills and the inability to return to work for some time. These financial challenges may not be so devastating, though, because of maintenance and cure. According to KDLG.org, this financial benefit covers almost any injury or illness if it happened while the seaman is in service on a boat.

PTSD and maintenance and cure

If you have experience a traumatic event that left you injured during the course of your employment as a seaman, you may seek maintenance and cure in New York under the Jones Act so that your employer will cover the costs of your medical care and certain expenses while you are undergoing treatment. However, even though you may make a complete physical recovery, if the incident left you with post-traumatic stress disorder, it may be difficult or impossible for you to function normally. We at Tabak, Mellusi & Shisha understand the importance of ensuring that maintenance and cure benefits cover all damages.

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