The short answer is until you reach what is called ‘maximum cure’. Maximum cure, also known as maximum medical cure or maximum medical improvement, basically means that you have healed as much as your injury will let you. Some people can heal 100% from their injuries, while others can only heal up to 70%. Some have to deal with the after-effects of their injuries their entire lives. So, once you can no longer continue healing from treatment, you have reached the end of your maintenance and cure benefits.
Maintenance and Cure Benefits Last Until Your Doctor Says So
The longer answer is that the company may send you to doctors they choose who basically release you quickly and state that you are at ‘maximum cure’. Then, when you try to see your own doctor to get a second opinion, the company refuses to approve your appointment since their doctor has already released you. We see this occur a lot.
The lesson here is to be sure to select your doctor or a doctor you fully trust before the company doctor can release you.
Maintenance and cure benefits under maritime Jones Act law can help injured maritime workers pay for daily living costs and medical treatments after they’ve been injured on the job.
What is ‘Maintenance’ and ‘Cure?’
‘Maintenance’ refers to compensation to help the injured maritime worker pay for daily living expenses while recovering on-shore. This includes room and board and other expenses. Meanwhile, ‘cure’ refers to payment of reasonable medical treatment and related expenses during the recovery period.
Combined, these are intended to help the injured seaman recover when he or she is not receiving regular paychecks from work. These payments continue until the worker reaches a point of maximum medical improvement.
Time Limit on Maintenance and Cure Benefits
Maximum medical improvement refers to the point at which the worker’s condition or injury is no longer expected to continue to get better with continued medical treatment.
But this isn’t to say that the injured worker has fully recovered from his or her injuries. Whether the employee is healed enough to return to work doesn’t matter. Once a doctor deems the worker has reach this level of improvement, maintenance and cure benefits will cease.
At this point, the worker will be responsible for his or her own medical bills and daily living costs. The only way in which an employer can still be required to pay these costs is if the injury resulted from an error or act of negligence and the worker files suit.
Options after Becoming Ineligible for Maintenance and Cure Benefits
If you received an injury on the job because of an error or negligence by your employer or because the vessel you work on was unseaworthy, you could file a claim under the maritime Jones Act. Although you will be unable to seek compensation for medical bills already paid through maintenance and cure, you can seek payment for the medical costs you’ve incurred since then, and those you expect to incur in the future.
A Jones Act claim can also compensate you for:
- lost wages; and
- lost earning capacity.
You may even be due punitive damages if your employer denied you these benefits to which you are entitled. To discuss whether you’re eligible to file a Jones Act claim, contact a Louisiana maritime attorney at The Young Firm today.
Help Filing a Claim
If you were injured at an offshore job, you’re due benefits from your employer as you recover. Call 866-715-3664 to speak a Louisiana maritime attorney at The Young Firm. See our free online guide for more information on the maritime Jones Act and maintenance and cure benefits.
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