If you are a maritime worker and work on a ship, then your employer is required to take care of your medical needs should you need it as required by maritime common law. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also called The Jones Act gives workers even more protections.
Understanding the terms
If you have been injured while working on a vessel then your employer needs to take care of your expenses for getting better and your costs while you recover.
- Maintenance means your day-to-day living expenses.
- Cure means your medical costs.
Maintenance means your living costs such as food and housing payments. These payments can include your mortgage, rent, homeowners’ insurance, food, property taxes and utilities. These do not typically include the cost of optional or non-essential expenses. These costs are similar to what an employer would provide were you working on a rig or out at sea.
Cure means if you get injured or sick while working on a vessel then your employer is obligated to get you the help you need to get better. This includes the cost of getting you to and from medical visits. The employer is responsible for this until you reach “maximum medical improvement” also called MMI.
Typically your employer’s insurance will pay the maintenance, usually weekly or bi-weekly. Your employer can pay your medical bills directly.
How much maintenance is covered?
While it used to be that maritime workers were paid a very low standard maintenance, such as $10-$20 a day, recent laws require the employer (or their insurance company) to pay a your actual household expenses. So, even if you and your family live in an expensive area of town your employer has to cover your actual costs.
This is not necessarily true for union workers in some parts of the country who have union contracts that say otherwise. An attorney who works in maritime law can tell you whether your case is an exception to what the union contract says or not. Injured workers can receive high levels of compensation.
Does cure cover illnesses?
Yes. If you are a maritime worker and you get ill while working on a vessel, then you are entitled to maintenance and cure until you reach MMI from that condition. It doesn’t matter if your illness was caused by your job on the ship or not.
Do I still have a liability case?
Quite possibly. If you were injured by a toxic chemical or malfunctioning equipment or other hazard you may also have a case against your employer and the responsible third party/ parties. An attorney who focuses on maritime law and injury will be able to accurately assess your case and who is responsible.