Maritime laws require vessel employers to provide injured offshore workers with Maintenance and Cure benefits that resemble civilian workers’ compensation. This Jones Act benefit has a no-fault provision, meaning you must pay it regardless of how your employee sustains an injury and who causes it.
However, offering this benefit will not always ensure that you will not become the target of a lawsuit.
What do Maintenance and Cure benefits cover?
Employers must make weekly maintenance payments to cover injured offshore employees’ temporary onshore essential living expenses, such as rent, utilities, food and transportation while recovering and receiving treatment.
Cure payments cover reasonable medical expenses, promoting recovery from any medical doctor the injured worker chooses. Payments cease when a doctor determines that further intervention is no longer necessary or beneficial.
Are vessel employers exempt from lawsuits?
Under certain circumstances, employers may face lawsuits despite making Maintenance and Cure payments to their employees. For example, under the Jones Act, you may be liable for damages even when workers’ injuries are due to equipment manufacturing defects or other employees’ neglectful actions.
In addition, unlike many onshore injury cases, the Jones Act allows workers to sue their employers for vessel-related injuries even when employers are minimally responsible.
What are an employer’s potential damage payments?
Lawsuits can end with employers making quantifiable compensation payments to employees or their families, covering lost wages and expense reimbursements. In addition, employers may also pay general damages covering physical pain and suffering and emotional anguish. Finally, employers may be liable for punitive damages for intentionally seeking to withhold benefits that employees are eligible to receive.
The Jones Act greatly favors offshore employees. However, you can defend your rights as a maritime employer by carefully studying and understanding these complex laws.