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November 17th, 2009

An Injured Jones Act Seaman has Maintenance and Cure Rights

The right to maintenance and cure is the most basic right of a seaman laid down in ancient maritime law, and it never fails to surprise maritime attorneys when employers deny or delay these basic privileges of the Jones Act seaman.

Maintenance and cure benefits were topmost on my mind when I read this report about a crewmember off the coast of Galveston, who had to be medevaced from a vessel after he fell on board, and suffered broken bones. The incident took place on the motor vessel Sicily.  Fortunately, the Coast Guard was able to evacuate the crewmember, and he is currently recuperating at the University of Texas Medical Center in Houston.

Maritime Attorneys can Help Recover Maintenance and Cure Benefits

The right to maintenance, which includes expenses related to house rent, groceries, and utilities begins as soon as the injury occurs. The amount of maintenance is also an issue that frequently lands before a maritime lawyer. Maritime statutes don’t lay down a specific amount that must be paid to an injured seaman, and the rate can vary.

Often, an employer may try to set a certain standard low rate for maintenance, telling the worker that this is the rate that has been set down for all seamen. As a maritime attorney, I want to make this very clear – you should not have to settle for any amount that your employer sets down, if this amount is too low for you to meet your basic daily needs.

Cure benefits refer to medical expenses incurred after the injury, including hospital costs, medication costs, and physical therapy. Cure expenses may also include unseen expenses, like the cost of travel to and from a doctor’s clinic. This is also the responsibility of the employer, and will continue to be so, even if the worker is somehow responsible for his own accident.

I hope that the injured worker is here is aware of his rights to receive maintenance and cure payments that have already kicked in.

Please contact us at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers.

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