Maintenance and Cure

Offshore injuries maintenance and cure

Offshore Injury Attorneys

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Maintenance and Cure is a seamen’s right to medical treatment and living allowance following an accident aboard a ship, or another offshore vessel.

Maintenance is a daily living allowance paid to a seaman while he is recovering from his injury or illness. Maintenance payments continue until a seaman has reached maximum medical improvement or until he is fit to return to duty at his previous level. There is no set daily rate for maintenance, and the rate of maintenance may vary from case to case. Typically maintenance rates are set by employers very low in the range of $30 to $35 a day. A maintenance rate in a seaman’s employment contract is non-binding with the exception of some collective bargaining agreements.

Cure is a shorthand term used for medical expenses associated with a seaman’s injury or illness. In almost all cases, a seaman’s employer must pay all reasonable and necessary medical expenses associated with a seaman’s injury or illness. These expenses may include doctor and hospital bills, therapy expenses, nursing bills, MRI and CT scans, wheelchairs, diagnostic testing, pain clinics, transportation costs to and from the doctor, and other reasonable medical-related expenses. An injured seaman has the right choose his own doctor. The right to cure continues until the seaman has reached maximum medical improvement. Many employers and marine insurance adjusters attempt to wrongfully terminate a seaman’s benefits before they have reached maximum medical improvement. Where there are conflicting medical opinions about whether or not further medical treatment may improve a seaman’s medical condition, maritime law requires those doubts be resolved in favor of granting further treatment.

The History Of Maintenance And Cure

The doctrine of maintenance and cure is a product of maritime common law and has been recognized in the United States since at least 1823 in the case of Harden v. Gordon, 11 F. Cas. 480, F. Cas. No. 6047 (C.C.D. Me. 1823). In Harden v. Gordon, the court described the reasons for the doctrine of maintenance and cure, noting that seamen, by the nature of their profession are particularly prone to illness and injury, and are often ill-equipped to handle the expense of such. The court reasoned that where the expense of maintenance and cure is the responsibility of the employer, the shipowner will be more likely to use the best methods to prevent illness and injury, and will not be “tempted to abandon the sick to their forlorn fate.”

Denied Maintenance And Cure?

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common. In many cases, employers simply bank on the fact that injured employees will not go through the effort to enforce their legal rights. So, they deny payment, and then they wait. If they don’t hear from an attorney, they don’t pay the benefits required by law.

If you believe you are entitled to maintenance and cure and your employer denies your claim, the first thing you should do is speak to an experienced maritime lawyer about your situation.

What Can An Offshore Injury Attorney Do for You?

1. Force Your Employer to Start Paying Maintenance and Cure

When you enlist the help of a skilled offshore injury attorney, he or she will act as your representative in dealing with your employer and the maritime insurance company. Your attorney will contact your employer, and demand that it begin making maintenance and cure payments immediately. When they know they owe, most maritime employers will begin paying promptly once they receive a demand from an experienced attorney. Your attorney can also assess the amount of your employer’s benefits to determine if you may be entitled to more and what other legal rights to money damages you deserve under the law.

2. Force Your Employer to Make Up Your Past Benefits

In addition to forcing your employer to pay maintenance and cure going forward, your attorney will be able to seek payment – possibly in a lump sum – for your past-due benefits. Your employer is not entitled to avoid payment simply because it chose not to treat you in good faith. An experienced maritime lawyer will know how to calculate past-due maintenance and cure benefits and ensure you receive your full entitlement under the Jones Act.

3. Fight for Additional Financial Compensation

Finally, in addition to securing maintenance and cure payments, your lawyer will also be able to assess whether you are entitled to additional compensation for Jones Act negligence or dangerous conditions on an unseaworthy vessel. Since maintenance and cure benefits are limited, it is critical that all injured seamen seek advice about pursuing these additional claims. If your employer’s negligence or an unseaworthy condition or another company caused or contributed to your injuries, your lawyer may be able to secure full compensation for all of your injury-related losses.

How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

At The Carlson Law Firm, we believe in signature customer service. This means that we put our clients needs ahead of our own, always. Our staff of experienced trial attorneys and case managers is available 24/7 to answer any questions you might have about filing your lawsuit.

There is no cost to you to speak with us. The Carlson Law Firm works on a contingent fee basis. We only recover our fees if you receive compensation.

During your free legal consultation, we’ll answer your questions and provide clear advice on the next steps to take.


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