Maintenance and Cure
Maintenance and Cure Benefits for Injured Alaska Seamen
Anchorage, Alaska, admiralty and maritime attorneys
You do not need to prove that your injury or illness was caused by the negligence or fault of the ship owner in order to get maintenance and cure benefits.
However, if the ship owner was negligent or the ship was unseaworthy, you can be eligible to recover more money in damages for disability, pain and suffering, future lost earnings, and disfigurement. If the ship’s owner/operator didn't have a written employment contract with you, you may be able to claim additional wages and penalties.
Why you need a lawyer to get maintenance and cure
Under maritime law, ship owners have a duty to provide maintenance and cure to injured seamen Even so, they don’t always do so willingly. After a maritime accident, you can expect your employer's insurance company to investigate the case, looking for ways to lower their payments to you. They may contest the amount of maintenance you are owed, deny you medical treatment or refuse to pay your medical bills. Willful refusal to pay maintenance and cure may allow you to claim punitive damages.
Regardless of what your employer or its insurance company may say, under maritime law, you are not required to sign a Release of All Claims in order to get your maintenance and cure benefits. You do not have to give a recorded statement before you talk with an independent attorney. In fact, you might be unwittingly sacrificing your rights if you do.
Your right to maintenance
In almost all cases employers must pay an injured seaman a daily maintenance allowance until the seaman has reached the point of expected maximum medical improvement or is fit to return to duty. Employers and vessel owners in the states of Alaska and Washington for the past decade have paid daily maintenance in the range of $25-$40 per day. However, since the Supreme Court of the United States holding in Atlantic Soundings Co. v. Townsend many employers are now paying maintenance in the $ 50-60 range and sometimes higher depending upon the injured seaman's living circumstances. If you are released to light duty before you reach maximum medical cure you may still be entitled to maintenance.
Unearned wages: When a seaman becomes ill or injured during his employment contract and cannot continue the voyage, he is entitled to his contractual wages (including those wages not yet earned) until he is fit to return to duty or until the voyage ends.
Your right to cure
Your employer is required to pay all reasonable and necessary medical bills until you reach maximum medical cure. But ship owners and their insurance companies look for ways to pay as little as possible. It's important that your lawyer understand your rights in order to fight unfair denials.
For effective representation in a maritime injury accident, contact the admiralty and maritime attorneys at Beard Stacey & Jacobsen, LLP to discuss your case in a free initial consultation.