Maritime work is known for its demanding nature, with lots of long hours and hazardous conditions. Injuries are, unfortunately, quite common, which makes a seaman’s right to benefits under the Jones Act a critical benefit.
The primary goal of the Jones Act is to safeguard the welfare of seamen by providing them with legal remedies in the event of injuries or illnesses sustained while performing their duties on a vessel – including “maintenance and cure.”
Maintenance provides for an injured seaman’s basic necessities
“Maintenance” refers to the daily living expenses that an injured or ill maritime worker is entitled to receive during their convalescence. These expenses include food, lodging, utilities and other ordinary living costs that the injured seaman would typically have covered as part of their room and board while on board a vessel.
The maintenance rate is determined based on various factors such as the seaman’s actual living expenses, the prevailing cost of living in the seafarer’s geographical area, and other relevant considerations. It is important to note that maintenance is an ongoing obligation until the injured worker either is fit to return to work or their condition has reached its maximum medical improvement point.
Cure provides for an injured or ill seaman’s medical care
Under the “cure” provision of the Jones Act, employers are obligated to cover the medical expenses of injured or ill seamen, including doctor visits, hospitalization, medications, physical therapy and any other reasonable medical care required for their recovery. Similar to maintenance, the cure obligation remains in effect until the injured employee reaches maximum medical improvement or recovers enough to resume work.
Although maintenance and cure are an injured seaman’s essential rights, obtaining full and fair compensation can sometimes be challenging. This is often particularly true when there are disputes between the injured seaman and their employer about their ability to return to work or the point at which maximum medical is reached. As a result, seeking legal guidance may prove to be crucial to protecting one’s rights.