The Jones Act is a federal law that protects seamen (maritime workers) who were injured on the Job. Under the Jones Act, a covered maritime worker can hold their employer legally responsible for their injuries if the accident was caused, at least in part, by a vessel’s unseaworthiness.
The Jones Act covers a worker’s health care costs up to their maximum medical improvement (MMI). In this article, our Houston Jones Act lawyer explains the key things that you need to know about the concept of maximum medical improvement and how it affects a Jones Act injury claim.
Background: Maintenance and Cure Benefits are Core Jones Act Compensation
As a baseline, the Jones Act allows injured seamen to seek maintenance and cure benefits. It is important to emphasize that maintenance and cure are no-fault benefits. In other words, an injured worker can seek maintenance and cure regardless of whether or not their employer (or any other party) bears fault for their maritime accident. Here is an overview of the benefits:
- Maintenance Benefits: Maintenance benefits are short-term financial support. These benefits cover basic daily living expenses. They may be paid at a rate of $15 to $40 per day.
- Cure Benefits: Cure benefits are designed to cover initial medical expenses. It includes things like emergency medical services and hospital care.
To be clear, other Jones Act benefits—such as compensation for pain and suffering—are fault-based benefits. They require proving that the employer bears legal liability for the accident. To recover compensation for pain and suffering and other fault-based Jones Act benefits, an injured maritime worker must file a personal injury claim under the law.
Jones Act: Cure Benefits are Only Paid Until Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
As the name suggests, cure benefits are designed to help “cure” the maritime worker of their injury, illness, or other job-related medical impairment. An injured maritime worker’s no-fault Jones Act maintenance and cure benefits are only paid by an employer until that individual reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI). Broadly defined, MMI is the point at which no further medical care is likely to improve the worker’s health.
In other words, a worker reaches maximum medical improvement when they no longer need further treatment. To be clear, it does not mean that an injured maritime worker has fully healed from their accident. There are cases in which a worker sustained permanent impairments despite reaching maximum medical improvement. If you believe that you have not truly reached MMI but your employer is trying to cut off benefits, you should consult with a skilled Jones Act lawyer.
Schedule a Free, Confidential Consultation With a Jones Act Attorney in Texas
At the Kolodny Law Firm, our Texas maritime injury attorney has experience taking on the complete range of Jones Act claims. If you have questions or concerns about maximum medical improvement and Jones Act medical benefits, we are here as a legal resource. Contact us now to set up your no cost, no obligation initial consultation with a seasoned attorney.