Maintenance and Cure


Maintenance is a duty imposed upon a shipowner to provide for a seaman who becomes injured during his service to the ship.

“`Maintenance’ encompasses a seaman’s living expenses, while `cure’ covers payment of medical or therapeutic treatment.” Pelotto v. L & N Towing Co., 604 F.2d 396, 400 (5th Cir. 1979) (citations omitted).  “Maintenance is a per diem living allowance for food and lodging comparable to what the seaman is entitled to while at sea.” Weeks Marine, Inc. v. Watson, 190 F. Supp. 3d 588, 596 (E.D. La. 2016).  “[S]eamen are entitled to maintenance in the amount of their actual expenses on food and lodging up to the reasonable amount for their locality.” Hall v. Noble Drilling (U.S.) Inc., 242 F.3d 582, 590 (5th Cir. 2001).

Under the Jones Act and general maritime law, a seaman injured while working in service of his ship, regardless of any negligence on his own part, is entitled to recover from his employer or the ship owner maintenance and cure benefits from the date of his injury up until the time of maximum medical cure.

Maintenance is a subsidence allowance intended to cover the reasonable costs a seaman incurs for his food and lodging during the period of his injury.

Maintenance and cure includes recovery by a seaman, whose injury or illness occurred, manifested or was aggravated while he was in the ship’s service, for the seaman’s food and lodging of the kind and quality he would have received were he aboard his ship while he is unable to perform a seaman’s work and for medical treatment.

“The right terminates only when maximum cure has been obtained.”

If the employer has shown callousness and indifference to, or willful and wanton disregard for, the seaman’s injuries, it is liable for punitive damages and attorney’s fees.  A seaman may recover punitive damages if his employer willfully and wantonly disregards its maintenance and cure obligations.

In order to support an award of punitive damages under general maritime law, “mere inadvertence or even gross negligence will not suffice to support an award of punitive damages. The tort must be aggravated by evil motive, actual malice, deliberate violence or oppression.”

The [person putting forth the claim] will have the burden of proof regarding his entitlement to maintenance and cure at the trial of this matter, he also bears the burden of proof at the summary judgment stage of these proceedings.

To recover maintenance and cure at the summary judgment stage of proceedings, [the person putting forth the claim] must show that no genuine issue of material fact exists with respect to the following factors: (a) his engagement as a seaman; (b) his illness or injury that occurred while in the ship’s service; (c) the wages to which he may be entitled; and (d) the expenditures or liability incurred for medicines, nursing care, board

Excerpted from the Jones Act, Maritime, Seaman & Witty case and the Jones Act, Maritime, Seaman & Mims case

See also maintenance and cureseaman and unseaworthiness for more on those terms.

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