The Jones Act is intended to provide benefits for seamen who have been injured in offshore work-related accidents. However, benefits are not paid indefinitely. Your employer is only liable for your medical care until you have reached maximum medical improvement.
Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement
Maximum medical improvement (MMI) means that your condition has improved as much as it is expected to. This means that you are either fully recovered and able to return to work or stabilized but left with a permanent disability.
Under the terms of the Jones Act, your employer is only obligated to pay for your medical care until you have reached MMI. In clear-cut injuries such as a broken arm, it is fairly obvious when MMI has occurred. However, in cases such as paralysis or a traumatic brain injury, there can be more of a dispute as to when you have reached MMI. You may wish to continue seeking additional treatment, but your employer may be pushing to declare that you have reached MMI so that the company is no longer obligated to pay benefits.
When you have suffered a debilitating injury that will not allow you to return to work, you may need to receive Social Security disability payments or other government benefits once you are no longer covered for maintenance and cure benefits under the Jones Act. However, if your injury was the result of employer negligence, you may still be entitled to benefits for loss of future wages under maritime law.
Protecting Your Right to Benefits
It is never in your best interests to let your employer's doctor decide if you have reached MMI. Declaring you have reached MMI too soon will leave you without access to the maintenance and cure benefits necessary to pay for your medical expenses.
Protect your right to compensation under the Jones Act by contacting an attorney with experience in this area of maritime law. Your attorney can work with you to ensure that you receive the maximum possible benefits. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Grady J. Flattmann, Attorneys at Law, LLC.