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Maintenance and Cure for Tenn-Tom Waterway Seamen

Numerous maritime workers perform their duties along the many navigable waters in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. One such waterway is the Tennessee-Tombigbee, frequently shortened to the Tenn-Tom. As an alternate route to the Gulf of Mexico, this waterway sees an abundance of shipping traffic. This 234-mile manmade water system generates more than 24,000 full-time jobs. While a great source of economic prosperity, the Tenn-Tom also represents regular dangers to maritime workers. This necessitates stringent safety measures, an awareness of the potential hazards that come with working in this industry, and knowledge of your rights and protections when you do suffer injury or illness.

Maintenance and Cure Overview

One of various policies that address seamen worker injuries is maintenance and cure. These benefits partially compensate eligible seamen when they are injured during the course of their employment. Fault is not a factor when claiming these benefits. Once your treating physician determines that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), these benefits stop. This doesn't mean that you will be fully recovered, but only that your condition will not improve further.

Maintenance Benefits

This part of the coverage refers to room and board. This initially originated from the employer's duty to feed and house seaman aboard his shipping vessel. But today, this covers your expenses at home. These expenditures include your mortgage or rent payments, homeowner's insurance, property taxes, utilities, and groceries. Because maintenance only covers the basics, extraneous items, such as cable TV and internet, are not compensated.

Cure Benefits

Cure is basically just what it sounds like. Your employer must cover your injury-related or illness-related medical expenses for treatment, rehabilitation and recovery efforts. This includes transportation expenses for getting to and from your medical appointments. Note that occupational diseases contracted in the course of your work are covered here as well.

Unearned Wages

You will also be entitled to unearned wages until the end of your voyage.  This length of time will vary depending on a number of factors, including the length of your hitch.

Other Options

It is important to be aware that maintenance and cure is not your only recourse when you have suffered a maritime injury. These benefits are separate from coverage you may receive under the Jones Act or for a breach of the warranty of seaworthiness. Clearly, you have expenses other than room and board. And when an injury or illness prevents you from working, pain and suffering and lost wages can take a serious toll. That's why it's advisable to seek the services of a knowledgeable maritime lawyer to ensure you receive all the benefits and legal remedies available to you.

Sources: http://www.msstate.edu/newsroom/article/2015/08/tennessee-tombigbee-waterway-can-be-gateway-global-economy/, http://corporate.findlaw.com/law-library/more-on-maintenance.html

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