Q: My employer is only paying a fraction of my maintenance and cure costs—what should I do?
Seamen who were injured while in the service of their vessel are afforded a number of benefits to help them recover and stay financially afloat until they reach their maximum medical improvement. This is outlined by several important laws and acts, but the maintenance and cure law deals specifically with your predicament.
Maintenance and cure is not a set amount, but is based on your household expenses, such as:
- Rent or mortgage
- Property taxes
- Utilities (excluding non-essentials like cable, internet, and phone service)
Adjusted for cost of living in your area, your employer is expected to pay for your necessary household expenses while you recover from your workplace injury.
Why Is Your Employer Paying Less, and What Can You Do About it?
The first possibility as to why your employer is shorting you on maintenance and cure payments—and a common reason why payments are often lower than expected—is that you are a union member with set rates. Many unions set monthly maintenance rates from which employers are rarely able to deviate, so be sure to check your contract to see if your employer is following a predetermined rate.
Of course, there is always the possibility that your employer is simply breaking the rules and paying you less than you deserve. In this case, your best option may be to pursue your maintenance and cure payments through legal action—you may even be able to see to it that your employer must pay punitive damages for his failure to provide you with the payments you deserve.
If you are confused about the payments you are receiving—or lack thereof—contacting an experienced maritime attorney can help you learn more. Schedule a free consultation with attorney Steve Lee today, and find out how you can take a stand—call or click on the live chat link to get started now!