Just about all merchant seaman and commercial fisherman have heard of “maintenance and cure.” However, simply because you’ve heard of the term does not mean you know exactly what it is. Usually, maintenance and cure refer to benefits received by an injured seaman from employers during recovery. Injured seaman are entitled to get maintenance and cure no matter who is to blame when it comes to the injury.
What is Maintenance?
Maintenance refers to the cost of room and board for the injured seaman while he or she stays at home recovering from the injury. Maintenance usually includes expenses like property taxes, mortgage, rent, food, and homeowner’s insurance. However, it does not include expenses like car payments, telephone, Internet, and cable. The reason maintenance doesn’t include these expenses is because things like Internet or telephone are not necessary to run a household. Gasoline and car payments are usually not considered household expenses.
What is Cure?
Cure refers to the cost of the seaman’s medical expenses. It can also include the cost of transportation necessary to ensure the seaman receives all necessary and reasonable medical treatment. Cure ensures that an injured seaman does not have to pay money to receive medical treatment for an injury incurred while on the job.
How Long Can an Injured Seaman Receive Maintenance and Cure?
The injured seaman must get maintenance and cure until he or she reaches MMI or maximum medical improvement. This means that the seaman has recovered as much as he or she ever will. The doctor will usually discharge the patient when he or she thinks the patient has reached maximum medical improvement. MMI doesn’t necessarily mean that the individual has recovered entirely from the injury. However, it does mean that the patient will not likely recovery any further.
Who Pays Maintenance and Cure?
In general, the employer or the insurer of the employer is responsible for paying maintenance and cure to the injured seaman. The maintenance is paid every week or every two weeks. The employer or the insurer of the employer must pay the seam’s medical bills directly to pay cure.
What is The Proper Rate of Maintenance?
Thanks to court decisions, maritime employer are required to pay the actual household expenses of the seaman. This ensures that employers aren’t able to get away with paying $8 or $10 per day as maintenance. The cost of living in an area is taken into account when it comes to the proper rate of maintenance. When it comes to cure, the employer must pay the medical bills of the injured seaman in its entirety.