The duty to pay maintenance and cure arises from the contractual relationship between the seaman and his employer, and is implicit in that relationship. From its dawn, the maritime law has recognized the seaman’s right to maintenance and cure. One who is injured or becomes ill while serving as a seaman is entitled to maintenance and cure during that period of time in which he is suffering from a curable disability and obtaining curative treatment therefor, and that is a right in addition to and apart from his right to recover damages for negligence. Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104. The Jones Act is liberally construed to enlarge the protection afforded to seamen under general maritime law. This is because the general congressional intent was to provide liberal recovery for injured workers under the Jones Act.
To qualify as a Jones Act seaman, a Plaintiff must show: (1) his duties contributed to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission; and (2) his connection with the vessel in navigation or offshore rig (or an identifiable group of vessels) was substantial in both its duration and nature. Persons who owe their allegiance to a vessel and not solely to a land based employer are seamen.
The maritime employer’s duty of maintenance and cure, obligates him to pay for the lost wages, medical care, food, lodging, and other incidental expenses of a mariner who falls ill or is injured while in the service of the vessel. The duty is practically absolute. Unlike an employer’s duties under the Jones Act, for example, liability for maintenance and cure is not based on the fault or negligence of the shipowner. In keeping with the absolute nature of the right, a plaintiff’s burden of proof on a maintenance and cure claim is slight: he need only establish that he was injured or became ill while “subject to the call of duty as a seaman.” The employer is liable even for pre-existing conditions that manifest themselves during the voyage. Moreover, a Jones Act seaman is entitled to cure until the date of maximum possible medical cure, when no further treatment will improve the condition.
Our attorneys have extensive experience in maritime personal injury litigation and the skills needed to represent seamen who have been seriously injured as a result of the negligence of another party. Spagnoletti Law Firm has lawyers admitted to practice in Texas, Florida and New York, and has handled maritime lawsuits throughout the country.
The experienced maritime attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights under the Jones Act. There are strict and short time limits on making claims related to vessel accidents, so please contact us online or call 713-659-0257 or 877-678-5864 to learn more about your rights.