The sea is a dangerous place. As such, injured seamen have compensation available to them that goes beyond the basics of traditional workers’ compensation benefits — including the right to “maintenance and cure.”
Understanding your rights to maintenance and cure can help you avoid missing out on what you are really due after a seafaring injury.
What exactly is maintenance?
Maintenance is the per diem money that an injured seaman can receive to compensate them for the loss of their room and board on their vessel after an injury. This is an entitlement that starts as soon as the seaman leaves the vessel, and it’s there whether the injury or illness is related to some fault of the seaman, the negligence of the owner’s vessel or any other reason.
What exactly is cure?
Cure is the injured seaman’s right to medical care related to their workplace illness or injury. There is some obligation on the seaman, however, to show that they are not incurring unnecessary costs and doing their part to mitigate the cost of that care to their employer.
How long does maintenance and cure last?
Maintenance and cure only last until the injured seaman either makes a full recovery and is able to return to work or reaches what is known as their “maximum medical recovery” (MMR).
Once that MMR point is reached, the maintenance and cure will stop immediately, regardless of whether the seaman elects to return to their former job or is left too disabled to return to their work.
Disputes quite often arise over the injured seaman’s exact right to daily maintenance, the cost of their medical treatment or “cure,” and when they have (or have not) reached maximum medical recovery. Working with an experienced maritime attorney can help protect your interests.