When you get hurt on a typical job site, the foreman or crew boss might send you off to a local hospital or doctor's office for treatment, maybe a few stitches. But when you get hurt on a seafaring vessel, you're a world away from access to a hospital or doctor's office
You no doubt chose to go into the maritime industry because of a love of the sea (or perhaps you have developed one after years of working in such an industry). Yet despite your affinity for sea travel, you may experience times where being out on the ocean for extended periods can be emotionally and psychologically taxing. This is understandable; while at sea, your movements on your vessel are limited. You may suffer from a want of companionship (even while in the presence of your crew members). Consecutive days of seeing nothing on the horizon can also be unsettling. All of this can lead to a deep sense of depression.
A career in the maritime industry (whether that be working at sea or in a seaport), brings with it the opportunity for many unique challenges (which is why so many in New York City are likely drawn to it). Yet with the uniqueness of this particular career path also comes certain rules and regulations that are exclusive to the industry. Among these are the guidelines governing compensation for work-related injuries. Rather than being covered by traditional workers’ compensation benefits, maritime workers who have been injured on the job are entitled to maintenance (which helps cover everyday expenses) and cure (which offers compensation for medical bills).
Among the myriad of risks facing maritime workers, they must also be concerned about contracting methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). These infections can cause serious harm and are often resistant to many of the medications used to treat bacterial infections. MRSA infections can be deadly in some cases, so workers must remain informed about symptoms, how infections are contracted, and how to receive proper treatment.
For most workers in New York, workers’ compensation pays claims when injured or if they experience a work-related illness on the job. However, if you are a seaman working aboard a vessel, the remedies for injuries or illness may not be as well known. At Tabak Mellusi & Shisha LLP, we often help clients pursue and obtain the maintenance and cure benefits they need.
If you sustained an injury while working on a barge, ship or another water-based vessel, you may have rights that extend beyond traditional workers' compensation benefits. New York workers' comp law grants injured workers the right to repayment for necessary medical treatment, lost wages and permanent partial disability. However, maritime law extends an injured party's rights to include benefits for maintenance, cure and unearned wages, and to allow injured seamen to file claims for unseaworthiness and negligence. FindLaw details what that means for you.
Working on a sea vessel in New York is different than working at a job on dry land. In the former case, if you become injured on the job, you do not receive workers' compensation. Instead, if the Jones Act applies, you receive maintenance and cure benefits. At Tabak Mellushi & Shisha, we know these terms can be confusing. "Cure" refers compensation for your medical expenses, while "maintenance" refers to a daily stipend intended to cover your day-to-day expenses.
When those whose work involves sailing out of Manhattan's ports are injured during their voyages, their concerns typically center on three important elements: wages, maintenance and cure. One might think that an employer can argue that while a seafarer is not working that they do not deserve to be paid, federal law requires that any wages that would have been earned after their injuries occurred be paid out. This obligation to pay unearned wages continues until the voyage ends.
Like any job in Manhattan, your work in the maritime industry requires you to do several repetitive tasks. The stress that such tasks place on your body can result in injuries over time. Such injuries may require treatment in order for you to perform daily tasks (much less perform the functions of your job). Even though the causes of such injuries are work-related, many still come to us here at Tabak Mellusi & Shisha LLP wondering whether the nature of such injuries disqualifies them from being covered by 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.