Most employees in traditional jobs have the right to Workers’ Compensation if they’re injured on the job. Maritime workers typically aren’t eligible for Workers’ Compensation, but seamen who are injured on a vessel have a legal right to maintenance and cure benefits. What are the differences between maintenance and cure and Workers’ Compensation, and what does this mean for you?
Maintenance and Cure is Absolute
Seamen who are injured on a vessel have an absolute right to maintenance and cure, regardless of who is at fault. Maintenance is a daily allowance that is intended to cover the costs of food and shelter that an injured seaman would have received on the vessel if he hadn’t been injured. The cure part of things refers to the employer’s responsibility to cover medical care, hospitalization and rehabilitation services.
The right to maintenance and cure ends when a seaman reaches maximum medical improvement. This means that even if a seaman may never return to work or may never fully recover from his injuries, maintenance and cure may end. But injured seamen have a right to maintenance and cure even if they’re filing a Jones Act claim - the right to maintenance and cure is absolute and independent of Jones Act claims.
Workers’ Compensation Offers Pros and Cons
Employees who are injured in the course of job on land are covered under Workers’ Compensation by state law. Workers’ compensation benefits typically total around two thirds of the injured worker’s wage, whereas injured seamen may only receive anywhere from $15 to $40 per day in maintenance. Technically, maintenance should cover all of the bills when a seaman is injured, but the reality is that many employers don’t pay the full amount.
However, employees who are covered under Workers’ Compensation laws can’t make a claim for pain and suffering, and in the long term, their benefits are much less than the actual lost wage suffered by the injured worker. A seaman injured on a vessel, though, may be eligible to file a Jones Act claim in addition to maintenance and cure payments, and the recovery for an injured seaman may be much higher than a land-dwelling worker under a Workers’ Compensation law.
Ultimately, the specifics vary from case to case. If you’ve been injured onboard a vessel, consult an experienced maritime attorney to determine what you’re eligible to claim.