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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.

According to the United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit, the courts may award the seaman compensation for the financial damages specifically related to the delayed or denied maintenance and cure payments. This includes compensation for the additional pain and suffering, as well as the medical costs of treating the worsened injury.

FindLaw notes that in the case between Dana Clausen and Icicle Seafood, Inc., the seaman had considerable attorney fees after the lengthy court battle with the company. The jury had awarded him with damages due to the company’s negligence under the Jones Act, as well as compensation for the maintenance and cure he was denied and over $1 million in punitive damages. The jury did not award attorney fees.

The seaman requested the attorney fees through a posttrial motion. The court ruled that only the attorney fees and costs from the maintenance and cure claim could be recovered. The fees and costs related to the seaman’s other two claims–for damages caused by negligence and punitive damages–were not reimbursed.

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