Injured seamen and maintenance and cure under the Jones Act

If you are a seaman injured because of the negligence of your employer, you receive protection for maintenance and cure under the Jones Act.

These are basic rights owed to you when you work in navigable waters on a vessel or offshore drilling rig.

Explaining maintenance

A seaman is entitled to “maintenance” no matter who was at fault for his or her injury. This includes reasonable costs for lodging, food and transportation. Any costs incurred during hospitalization are not part of maintenance because the hospital provides lodging and food. The rate the employer must pay an injured party living on land is the equivalent of the cost of living offshore on the vessel or rig.

Defining cure

This is another basic right to which a seaman qualifies no matter who was at fault for an injury. “Cure” refers to medical care. Your employer must pay the cost of medical care for any medical condition that appeared during your service aboard the vessel or rig until such time as you reach maximum cure.

Proving fault

If you file a claim, be aware that under the Jones Act, you as a seaman must prove that employer negligence was responsible for your injury. Examples of negligence include unsafe working conditions, broken safety equipment, debris on walkways, violation of U.S. Coast Guard regulations or inadequate training. Keep in mind that if your employer fails to provide maintenance and/or cure and your injury becomes worse, as a result, you can expect to recover damages that include payment for additional medical expenses plus pain and suffering.