In this article, the maritime attorneys at Kherkher Garcia, LLP will discuss what maintenance and cure benefits are, how they work, and what you need to know to get the compensation that you deserve.
What are Maintenance and Cure Benefits?
Maintenance and cure benefits are payments made to seafarers who become ill or injured while serving aboard a vessel. The term “maintenance” refers to the seafarer’s living expenses, such as food and lodging, while they are recovering from their illness or injury. The term “cure” refers to the seafarer’s medical expenses, such as doctor visits and medications. These benefits are intended to cover the basic needs of seafarers while they are unable to work and provide for themselves.
Am I Entitled to Maintenance and Cure Benefits?
To qualify for maintenance and cure benefits, you must be a seaman, which is defined as someone who is employed on a vessel that operates on navigable waters. The injury must also have occurred while you were on board the vessel or in the course of your employment.
If you are a seamen and have become ill or injured while serving aboard a vessel, you are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. These benefits are a legal obligation for shipowners and maritime employers and are intended to cover the basic needs of seamen while they recover from their illness or injury.
In order to simplify your maintenance and cure claim, it is important to report your illness or injury to the ship’s captain or a senior officer as soon as possible. You should also seek medical care and keep all receipts and records related to your medical treatment.
Accidents and Injuries Covered by Maintenance and Cure
Some common maritime accidents and injuries that qualify for maintenance and cure benefits include:
- Slip and Fall Accidents: Slip and fall accidents are common on ships, docks, and ports, especially when decks are wet or slippery. Workers who are injured in slip and fall accidents may be entitled to maintenance and cure benefits.
- Back Injuries: Workers may suffer back injuries from heavy lifting, repetitive motions, or other work-related activities. These injuries can be serious and may require extensive medical treatment.
- Head Injuries: Workers may suffer head injuries from falling objects or other accidents. Head injuries can be serious and may require immediate medical attention.
- Repetitive Motion Injuries: Workers who perform repetitive motions, such as using a computer or operating machinery, may develop repetitive motion injuries. These injuries can be painful and may require medical treatment.
- Burns: Workers who work in the galley or engine room may be at risk of burns from hot surfaces or liquids. Burns can be serious and may require extensive medical treatment.
- Illnesses: Workers may also become ill while serving aboard a vessel. Illnesses such as food poisoning, pneumonia, and infectious diseases may qualify for maintenance and cure benefits.
It is worth noting that these are just a few examples of the accidents and injuries that can qualify for maintenance and cure benefits. Any illness or injury that occurs while serving aboard a vessel may qualify for benefits.
If the shipowner or employer denies maintenance and cure benefits, you have the right to seek legal representation. An experienced maritime attorney can help you understand your legal rights and fight for the benefits you are entitled to.
How do Maintenance and Cure Benefits Work?
Maintenance and cure benefits are a legal obligation for shipowners and are provided regardless of fault or negligence. This means that seamen are entitled to these benefits even if their illness or injury was their own fault or if the shipowner or employer was not at fault.
Maintenance benefits are paid at a daily rate and cover the seaman’s living expenses while they are recovering from their illness or injury. The amount of maintenance benefits varies depending on your rank, the type of vessel, and the cost of living in the area where you are receiving treatment. In general, maintenance benefits are intended to cover your basic living expenses, such as food, lodging, and utilities.
Cure benefits cover your medical expenses while you are recovering from an illness or injury. This includes doctor visits, hospital stays, medications, and other medical expenses. The shipowner or employer is responsible for paying all reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to your illness or injury.
If you qualify, you are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the point at which your condition has stabilized and is not expected to improve with further medical treatment. At this point, the shipowner or employer is no longer obligated to pay maintenance and cure benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions about Maintenance and Cure Benefits
Let’s take a look at a few of the most frequently asked questions about maintenance and cure benefits:
Q: What happens if my employer doesn’t pay maintenance and cure?
It is uncommon for an employer to refuse maintenance and cure benefits. However, it does happen. When it does, you have the right to seek legal representation and potentially file a lawsuit in order to recover compensation.
Q: Can I choose my own doctor?
Yes. Seamen have the right to choose their own doctor. If your employer requests you be examined by a doctor of their choosing, you still have the right to get a second opinion from a doctor of your choice.
Q: How long does maintenance and cure last?
There isn’t necessarily a “time frame” for maintenance and cure benefits. The general rule is that you will receive benefits until you reach maximum medical improvement, or MMI. Under maritime law, MMI refers to the point when a doctor determines that you have reached a point where your condition will not further improve with medical care.
Unfortunately, this means that if you are permanently disabled and doctors see no possible treatment options going forward, your maintenance and cure benefits may end, even if you need ongoing care. In other words, if your condition cannot be improved, you will see your benefits end.
Q: Do I need an attorney to get maintenance and cure benefits?
You don’t necessarily need an attorney to get maintenance and cure benefits. However, if your claim is complicated or you are afraid your employer will deny your claim, having an attorney on your side can be helpful. A maritime attorney can help you ensure that you get the maximum compensation that you deserve.
How a Maritime Attorney can Help with Maintenance and Cure Benefits
A maritime attorney can help with maintenance and cure benefits in several ways. Here are some ways in which a maritime attorney can be of assistance:
- Assessing Eligibility: A maritime attorney can help you determine whether you are eligible for maintenance and cure benefits. They can review the circumstances of your injury or illness and help you understand your legal rights.
- Filing a Claim: A maritime attorney can help you file a claim for maintenance and cure benefits. They can assist you in gathering the necessary documentation and submitting the claim to the appropriate parties.
- Negotiating with Insurance Companies: Insurance companies may try to deny or reduce maintenance and cure benefits. A maritime attorney can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to.
- Representing You in Court: If your claim for maintenance and cure benefits is denied or disputed, a maritime attorney can represent you in court. They can help you navigate the legal system and fight for the compensation you deserve.
- Seeking Additional Compensation: If your injury or illness was caused by the negligence of the shipowner or a fellow crewmember, you may be entitled to additional compensation. A maritime attorney can help you understand your legal rights and seek the compensation you deserve.
In addition to these services, a maritime attorney can provide guidance and support throughout the process of seeking maintenance and cure benefits. An attorney can help you understand your legal options and make informed decisions about your case.
Get Help with Your Maintenance and Cure Benefits
If you have been injured or become ill while working as a seaman, you may qualify for maintenance and cure benefits, or other compensation under maritime law. Find out more about your rights and options by contacting the maritime attorneys at Kherkher Garcia.
Get a free consultation of your maritime injury with one of our skilled attorneys by calling 713-333-1030. With more than 30 years experience handling maritime injury claims, we know how to get our clients results that matter.