On June 10, 2015, an injured seaman’s lawsuit was referred to the U.S. Supreme Court for potential review. The case is named Meche v. Doucet et al. The issue for which review is sought pertains to whether and when an employer may deny maintenance and cure benefits to seaman employees who bring Jones Act and/or maritime claims for their serious injuries—including whether benefits can be denied if a preexisting condition was not disclosed at the time of hiring. How the Supreme Court decides to review Meche v. Doucet could have wide-ranging implications for injured seaman and their right to obtain maintenance and cure.
Maintenance and cure are critical components of how injured seaman are compensated for their injures. According to the Fifth Circuit Court (a court that presides over federal claims brought in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi), “maintenance is a daily stipend for living expenses,” whereas “cure is the payment of medical expenses.” Notably, as the Fifth Circuit Court has also held, “The vessel owner’s obligation to provide this compensation does not depend on any determination of fault, but rather is treated as an implied term of any contract for maritime employment. A seaman may recover maintenance and cure even for injuries or illnesses pre-existing the seaman’s employment unless that seaman knowingly or fraudulently concealed his condition from the vessel owner at the time he was employed.”
If you are an injured seaman, you may be entitled to maintenance and cure, in addition to other damages. The Jones Act, Admiralty, and Maritime injury lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard proudly represent those who are seriously injured on the high seas, and can assist you in evaluating your rights. If you or a loved one has been injured, please contact us now for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your claims.