Seamen’s Rights under General Maritime Law
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In addition to being able to sue their employers and other parties for negligence, seamen have unique rights under general maritime law. These include the right to maintenance and cure, the right to wages, and the right to sue for unseaworthiness.
MAINTENANCE: A SEAMAN’S DAILY LIVING EXPENSES
Maintenance is a daily living allowance paid to seamen who are hurt on the job, regardless of who is at fault for their injuries. The employer owes the seaman maintenance until they are fully healed, or until they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), the point at which a seaman’s condition is likely permanent and not expected to improve. The amount of maintenance owed is not the same for everyone, and is determined based on each individual’s living expenses, but is usually limited to $40 per day. Maintenance only covers the seaman himself, and does not cover all of the expenses associated with providing for a family. Employers who ignore their duty to pay maintenance are sometimes liable for punitive damages, and Strauss & King makes sure that their clients are compensated to the fullest extent allowed by law.
CURE: A SEAMAN’S MEDICAL EXPENSES
Cure refers to the reasonable medical expenses incurred in the treatment of a seaman’s condition. Like maintenance, the seaman’s employer is obligated to pay cure regardless of fault, and the payment of cure must continue until a seaman reaches MMI. A seaman is free to see any physician of his or her choice, and the employer must pay these medical expenses unless they can prove that the treatments are unnecessary or unreasonably expensive. Employers who refuse to pay for an injured seaman’s medical expenses may be liable for punitive damages. If you are an injured seaman and would like to see someone besides your company’s doctor, call Strauss and King at (504) 523-0033. We can recommend many great doctors throughout the south and will see to it that you get the help you need.
When a Seaman is injured, their employer is obligated to pay them the wages they would have earned for the remainder of their voyage or hitch. By statute, a penalty of “double wages” applies when an employer, without sufficient cause, fails to pay a seaman’s wages that are due. We here at Strauss and King know you work hard to earn a living, and will fight to see that you get what you are owed.
Under general maritime law, vessel owners owe a duty to seamen to provide a “seaworthy” vessel on which the seamen work. The warranty of seaworthiness applies to more than just vessels in danger of sinking, but specifies that all parts of the vessel and its equipment must be reasonably fit for their intended use. A seaman has a cause of action for unseaworthiness if the vessel or its equipment is broken, unmaintained, or inadequately provisioned and this causes the seaman’s injuries. This can include inadequate lighting, poorly maintained decks, gangways, and passageways, including slippery surfaces or a lack of non-skid, failing to have enough crew members to safely perform tasks, an inadequately trained crew, failing to have the proper equipment, improperly stored items like lines and cables, and broken or malfunctioning equipment. The vessel owner owes the seaman a strict and absolute duty to provide a seaworthy vessel. The seaman does not need to prove that the owner caused or knew about the unseaworthy condition, only that the condition existed and resulted in his injuries.
Schedule a free consultation online or call one of our Personal Injury Lawyers at (504) 523-0033.