If you got hurt working on a vessel, a jack-up rig, a semi-submersible rig, or anywhere on the water, you may think you’ve filed a workers compensation claim. The truth is that you probably haven’t. Most maritime and offshore workers aren’t covered by state workers compensation programs. Instead, you’re covered by federal maritime laws.These laws, which include the Jones Act, are better for you than workers compensation laws. Under the Jones Act, you are entitled to maintenance and cure when you get injured on the job. You can be compensated for your lost wages. You can be compensated for the wages you will miss out on because of your injuries. You can be compensated for the medical expenses you will face in the future for these injuries. And, on top of all that, you may be able to be compensated if you can prove your company was negligent.
What are “maintenance” and “cure” under maritime lLaw?Under maritime law, most people working on vessels, drilling rigs, or even tugboats and other “brownwater” workplaces qualify for two types of benefits if they get sick or get injured at work:
- Maintenance payments are an income supplement. These payments give you money to help pay your normal living expenses while you are unable to work. Frankly, it’s not especially generous, but it’s better than no income at all. In order to collect maintenance, you have to prove that you incurred day-to-day expenses which were not otherwise covered while recuperating from your injuries.
- Cure payments cover the legitimate medical expenses related to your accident or illness. This not only means payment for immediate emergency care right after the accident, but also any necessary surgery and follow-up therapy.