After you suffer an injury offshore, your employer is REQUIRED BY LAW to help you pay for your medical and living expenses (within reason).
Under general maritime law an employer has an obligation to provide its injured employee with "maintenance and cure".
What is Maintenance?
Maintenance is money that your employer is obligated to pay you if you're injured while working offshore. The amount that your employer pays you is dependent on how much it costs for you to live on land.
In other words, maintenance typically includes
- costs for your lodging
- monthly bills while you are injured
Most companies pay a fixed rate of $15.00 to $30.00 per day as maintenance. There is absolutely no basis in the law for the payment of this amount. Most companies arbitrarily select this amount and argue that it has been paid for many years to injured seamen. You are entitled to receive however much it costs to maintain your yourself while you are injured.
What is Cure?
Cure is considered medical expenses that are reasonable and related to your injury. Your employer should be paying for your medical expenses, regardless if you are using a company doctor or your own personal doctor.
You are allowed to select your own choice of treating physician and your company MUST pay for any medical treatment which is reasonable and related to your injury.
How Can You Make Sure You Get Enough Maintenance and Cure?
We recommend that you download the "Maintenance & Cure Worksheet". In this worksheet, we give a recap on maintenance and cure, as well as provide an Expense Form. You can fill out this Expense Form and send to your company. Make sure you copy the letter before sending. This ensures that both you and your company have physical copy of how much it costs for you to make your bills and continue surviving during your injury. This will be important if your company refuses to pay the full amount and you are forced to find legal representation.
What if Your Employer Refuses to Give You Enough Money?
If your employer fails to pay maintenance and cure, you can then have a judge or jury decide whether or not your employer should pay.
To do this, you will need the help of a maritime attorney to file a maintenance and cure claim that successfully argues that your employer was (1) unreasonable in failing to pay maintenance and cure and (2) arbitrary in refusing to pay maintenance and cure. If you intend to file a maintenance and cure claim, we recommend that you document all of your living and medical expenses and maintain records of everything.
If your employer is found to be unreasonable in failing to pay maintenance and cure to you, you may be awarded attorney fees associated with having to file suit in order to receive maintenance and cure. Additionally, if your employer is found not only to be unreasonable but also arbitrary in failing to pay maintenance and cure, you may be awarded damages for any worsening of your condition due to your employer's failure to pay your maintenance and cure.
The law states that all ambiguities or doubts in regard to a maintenance and cure claim should be resolved in favor of the seaman. This doctrine gives you an idea of how strong your rights are to maintenance and cure benefits.
What Should You Do Next?
- First, we recommend you download the "Maintenance & Cure Worksheet".
- Next, you can visit our Maintenance & Cure Blog to further educate yourself.
- You can also request a hard copy of our book "Secrets to Maintenance and Cure Law".
- Lastly, if you have any questions, you can always feel free to call us: 504-680-4100 or toll free at (866) 938-6113.