November 2013

PROPER PAPERWORK WHEN NOT FIT FOR DUTY

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When a mariner is seeking maintenance and cure after he or she has suffered an illness or injury in the service of a vessel, it is important to obtain the proper paperwork from health care providers to insure timely receipt of maintenance payments. Generally, doctors and hospitals are familiar with what is required by the shipowner or employer to pay maintenance, but confusion can occur when dealing with doctors who do not regularly treat mariners. Make sure with each visit to the doctor that you obtain a document that states whether you are Fit For Duty or Not Fit For Duty. Additionally, if you are declared Not Fit For Duty, the document must state the date of your return visit to the doctor. If there are limitations in your ability to work, those should also be stated, especially, if there is some question as to whether or not you are Fit For Duty. Always get copies of your duty status slips for your own records as well as one to send to the party responsible for paying your maintenance.

QUESTION FROM THE BRIDGE

I received a duty status slip from my doctor's office only signed by the Nurse Practitioner (PA) and my employer will not pay my maintenance. Is this sufficient or not.
Eddie, Portland, OR

Answer:
Eddie,
This is an excellent issue to address. If the Nurse Practitioner has signed the document on your doctor's letterhead, it should suffice. However, advise your doctor that some companies are very particular about obtaining certain signatures with each visit to insure you have the proper paperwork to continue your maintenance and cure payments.

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For more than four decades, merchant mariners, longshoremen, fishermen and harbor workers plying their trades at sea, on the docks, on our U.S. coastal waters and inland waterways have turned to the maritime law firm of Lyle C. Cavin, Jr. & Associates in Oakland. Today, we are proud to be recognized as one of the preeminent maritime law firms serving injured marine workers nationwide, as well as one of the most successful personal injury litigation firms serving victims of negligence in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the West Coast.

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