Maintenance and Cure

The duty to provide maintenance and cure is without regard to fault.

Maintenance is the right of a seaman to food and lodging if ill or injured in the course of service to the ship. The amount payable for maintenance is based upon the actual expenditure of food and lodging until the injured seaman has reached maximum recovery. The amount payable must be reasonable and cannot be waived by contract of employment. While courts differ, some allow the sick or injured seaman to receive both unearned wages and maintenance benefits.

Cure is the right to medical services. The right to cure affords the cost to provide reasonable medical expenses of a physician chosen by the seaman. Benefits are normally paid for through insurance or through union membership (the largest maritime unions are the Seafarers International Union and the National Maritime Union). All unpaid medical expenses must be paid by the employer.

Lost Wages: In addition to maintenance and cure, the seaman has a right to receive unearned wages beginning with the onset of the injury or sickness until the conclusion of the voyage and receive these benefits until the seaman has reached maximum medical recovery. This term is defined to mean “further treatment will result in no betterment of the seaman’s condition.” This level of recovery is determined by a physician.