The Three Fundamental Elements of Maintenance and Cure

FEBRUARY 28, 2011 by Bill Abbott

Maintenance and cure are remedies to maritime claims that are provided for pursuant to principles of general maritime law. Maritime claims for maintenance and cure are considered to be separate and independent from alternative claims for negligence under the Jones Act or unseaworthiness under general maritime law. However, maritime claims for maintenance and cure can be brought at the same time as Jones Act and unseaworthiness claims.

There are three fundamental elements to maintenance and cure remedies: subsistence, medical care and unearned wages. The subsistence element entitles injured seamen to receive money to cover food and lodging expenses. The medical care element requires a maritime employer to pay for all hospitalization costs including doctor and nursing fees, rehabilitation expenses, medications and other miscellaneous medical costs that are associated with the seaman’s injury. The unearned wages element of maintenance and cure requires the maritime employer to pay an ill or injured seaman’s wages until the end of a particular voyage or until the seaman’s articles of employment are terminated.

Employers who fail to pay maintenance and cure to a seaman who was injured while performing his or her job duties may be required to pay punitive damages and attorney’s fees to the employee in addition to amounts that are owned for maintenance and cure. If you have been injured in a maritime work accident you should contact an attorney who is experienced in handling maritime claims to learn about your right to compensation under the law.


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