Blue-water mariners are employees who go out on the open ocean as part of their regular job responsibilities. They may work on container ships, oil transportation vessels or even cruise ships. They may face a host of different hazards on the job, from injuries caused by heavy machinery to near-drowning incidents.
When a blue-water mariner gets hurt on the job, they do not have the standard protection of workers’ compensation coverage. Instead, they may have to file a lawsuit based on the Jones Act. The Jones Act allows an injured mariner to request “cure and maintenance” from an employer for injuries incurred while working on the high seas.
What could constitute cure and maintenance for the purposes of a Jones Act claim?
“Cure” relates to medical treatment
The word cure in the context of a maritime injury refers to necessary medical treatment. The right to recover costs related to a worker’s injuries means that their employer may have to pay for their treatment costs. Whether a worker requires rehabilitative care after a drowning-related brain injury or surgery for a crushing-related fracture, they can include those costs in their lawsuit against their employer. Businesses sometimes fight back against specific claims by alleging the treatment is too expensive or unnecessary. Injured mariners can request not just current medical expenses but likely future medical expenses as well.
“Maintenance” relates to lost income
A claim for maintenance under the Jones Act can help a worker replace lost income. Maintenance claims can apply to both lost wages during someone’s hospitalization and lost earning potential if an injury causes lingering symptoms. Unlike the disability benefits available through workers’ compensation, maintenance claims can lead to full compensation for a mariner’s lost income. The limits on disability benefits often leave those in better-paying positions struggling to cover their costs.
Generally speaking, workers pursuing a claim under the Jones Act will need documentation affirming the origin of their injuries and the extent of their care costs, as long well as the likely duration of their functional limitations when seeking maintenance. Partially because navigating this process can be a complex undertaking, partnering with an attorney familiar with the unique rules that apply to mariner injuries can benefit those hurt in an offshore location.