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Maritime Injuries - Maintenance and Cure

Robert Karns

Similar to worker's compensation, in maritime injuries maintenance and cure are benefits that an injured seaman receives from his or her employer during his or her recovery. Maintenance and cure benefits are paid regardless of whose fault the injury was.

Maintenance

Maintenance means living expenses for the injured seaman including rent or mortgage, utilities, taxes, homeowners insurance and food. Maintenance relates to necessary expenses of running the household and does not include telephone, cable, internet, car payments or similar items. To be covered under maintenance the expense must be household expenses.

Cure

Cure is the injured seaman's medical expenses for the injury suffered during the course of employment. This also includes transportation in order to get to the medical treatment. Similar to worker's compensation, all related medical bills are to be paid under cure.

Rate of Maintenance

In regular land based worker's compensation cases the rate of weekly worker's compensation is based upon the average weekly wage of the injured worker. In maritime injuries the rate of the seaman's maintenance is based upon need.

For many years maritime employers and insurers were paying very small maintenance in the amount of $8.00 to $10.00 a day anywhere from $240.00 to $300.00 per month regardless of the living expenses of the injured seaman. Recent court decisions have expanded on this and maintenance can now be calculated based upon actual living expenses. If the injured seaman and the insurer cannot agree on the rate of maintenance the court system will determine and calculate the amount of maintenance to be paid to the injured seaman. The reasonable cost of food must be determined along with the cost for the applicable household expenses. In determining this, evidence of the seaman's actual costs must be determined including applicable receipts. If the injured seaman and the insurer cannot agree the court will determine monthly maintenance for food, lodging (rent or mortgage) and utilities. Recent case law through the court system has shown that maintenance rates have been increased to as much as $40.00 a day or more. Again this is not based upon the average weekly wage of the injured seaman but based upon the requirements for food and household expenses.

How long are maintenance and cure benefits paid and how are they paid

Maintenance and cure benefits are paid to the injured seaman until the injured seaman has reached a point of maximum medical improvement. This is when the treating physician states that the injured seaman has recovered as much as can be expected. This does not mean that the injured seaman has totally recovered it simply means that there is no further treatment necessary. When this is stated by the treating physician than both maintenance and cure benefits cease.

Maintenance is generally paid to the injured seaman biweekly. Cure is paid directly to the medical providers.

Conclusion

Maintenance and cure benefits are due to the injured seaman regardless of whose fault the injury is. The maintenance and cure benefits continue until the injured seaman has reached maximum medical improvement.

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