If your career is on navigable waters, you have probably heard the term “maintenance and cure.” The term is used when discussing the benefits available to an injured seaman that are paid by an employer during the recovery period. Regardless of who was at fault when the injury occurred, the seaman is entitled to maintenance and cure.

Maintenance

While you are recovering, your employer is required to cover your room and board. The requirement dates back to a time when an employer was required to provide room and board while sailors were on the ship. Today, maintenance is designed to compensate you for anything related to room and board including:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowner or renter insurance
  • Food

It is not designed to compensate you for your telephone, cable, internet, gasoline or car payments as these are not considered necessary expenses for running a household or are expenses unrelated to room and board.

Cure

After an injury, your employer is required to compensate you for your medical expenses as well as the cost of transportation to and from treatments. This compensation is similar to the workers’ compensation benefits provided to land-based employees who are not required to pay medical expenses after a workplace injury. If you are diagnosed with an illness connected to your employment, you may also qualify for maintenance and cure. You can receive maintenance and cure until you reach what is known as maximum medical improvement (MMI). When a doctor believes that you have improved to the point of MMI, you will be released from care even if you have not fully recovered as the doctor believes you cannot improve any further.

Payment and Rate

Maintenance is normally paid directly to you either bi-weekly or weekly while cure is often paid directly to the doctor, hospital or other medical facility. In some cases, employers attempt to pay as little as $8 to $10 per day as maintenance regardless of what your actual medical expenses are. Courts, however, have ruled that employers must pay your actual household expenses. It is possible that if you are under a union contract that your maintenance rate could be limited by that contract.

It is not unusual for an employer to avoid paying maintenance and cure despite the law. If you or a loved one has been injured while working as a seaman, contact Lundy Law to determine what rights you may have. You can arrange an initial consultation by calling 1-800-Lundy Law or competing the query form online.

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