Common Questions about Maritime Maintenance and Cure

If you work in the maritime industry, you are probably familiar with the term “maintenance and cure,” but might not be sure of the best way to get the help you need and deserve.  In response to the many common questions about maintenance and cure our clients ask, we have compiled a list of answers that may help you if you have been injured while working in the maritime industry.

Please check out the answers below, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have other questions or concerns about maritime injuries.

Common Questions about Maritime Maintenance and Cure

Do I qualify for maintenance and cure benefits?

If you are a seaman who was injured on-the-job, you very well may qualify for maintenance and cure benefits.  There are some complexities to the maritime industry that may challenge your eligibility or affect the amount you can receive.  Generally speaking, however, if you meet the legal definition of a seaman (someone who spends the majority of work time on a navigable vessel), then you should qualify for maintenance and cure.

My employer chose a doctor for me to see, but I would rather choose one myself.  Do I have to follow their recommendation?

Generally, your employer cannot force you to use a doctor they selected.  Remember that doctors selected by your employer may work for the company, meaning his or her focus may be on the company’s best interests and not yours.  Further, your employer may have provided the doctor with information about your injuries without your knowledge, which can complicate you getting the right diagnosis and treatment.  It is always advisable to choose a doctor you can trust.

Do I have to pay for a doctor I chose?

No! Maritime law absolutely allows injured seamen to choose their own doctor, and the employer must cover the expense.  The Jones Act specifically allows you the freedom to choose a doctor you are comfortable with, and whom you trust to make an accurate diagnosis.

What are the risks of seeing a company selected doctor?

The primary risk of seeing a doctor you did not choose is not getting the medical care you really need.  Doctors that work for your employer’s company may try to save the company money, which can result in you not getting proper diagnostics or treatment.  Remember, your employer is only required to pay for treatment that is recommended by the doctor.  Here are some of the risks of seeing a doctor you did not choose:

  • If the doctor is focused on saving money, rather than finding the best treatment for your injuries, he or she may refuse basic tests like MRIs, X-rays, nerve testing, or certain treatments.
  • Incomplete or lack of diagnostics can result in misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, which can cause further damage to your health.
  • Your condition may be generalized, which can result in inaccurate treatment plans.

What if my employer refuses to pay maintenance and cure benefits?

Maritime employers are required by law to pay maintenance and cure benefits to injured seamen.  If you were injured on-the-job and your employer is denying your maintenance and cure benefits, then you should definitely contact Brown Wharton & brothers to learn more about your legal rights, eligibility, and what you can do to get the financial help you deserve.

What can I expect maintenance and cure benefits to cover?

So long as your doctor makes an accurate diagnosis and recommendations to your employer, maintenance and cure should cover all of your related medical expenses, plus the cost of daily living while you recover.

Maintenance and cure are two separate concepts, defined as the following:

  • Maintenance – Benefits covering day-to-day expenses, such as mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance, food, and property taxes. Maintenance does not cover expenses like internet, cable, or car payments.
  • Cure – Benefits covering medical expenses and ongoing treatment. Cure benefits may cover transportation related to medical appointments, as well as the cost of diagnostics, treatment, and medications.

Remember that maintenance and cure pays for illnesses as well as injuries.  If you become ill while working as a seaman, you may be entitled to maintenance and cure benefits, even if the illness was not directly caused by the work being performed.

How long will I receive maintenance and cure?

In legal terms, maintenance and cure are benefits paid to an injured maritime worker until he or she is fit to return to duty, or reaches a point where further treatment will not help.  This is called maximum medical improvement (MMI).  Basically, reaching MMI means that your condition has improved as much as it is ever going to.

At the point of MMI, the doctor may discharge you from treatment.  You may reach MMI without being fully recovered if your doctor determines that your condition will not improve with further treatment.  If you suffered a permanent disability, then you may be able to pursue additional financial support outside the scope of maintenance and cure.

Do I need an attorney to help me with maintenance and cure benefits?

While your employer is required to pay maintenance and cure benefits, you may find it very helpful to contact a maritime injury attorney after an on-the-job injury occurs.  A maritime injury attorney can assess your case, help ensure that you get the maintenance and cure benefits you are legally entitled to, and can help make sure that all options for optimum recovery are considered.

If you have questions about your on-the-job maritime injury, contact us today.  We offer every client a free case review, so please fill out the form on your screen and our team will contact you right back.

Sources:

  • http://www.jonesactlaw.com/library/should-you-go-to-a-company-doctor-for-your-treatment-after-maritime-injury/
  • https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/maintenance_and_cure
  • http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-maintenance-cure-maritime-injury-case.html