With few exceptions, seamen are not covered by Workers’ Compensation. Rather, a seaman who is injured or becomes ill while in the service of the vessel is entitled to the general maritime law no-fault right of maintenance, cure and unearned wages. If a seaman is not paid the maintenance, cure and unearned wages owed, he or she may bring claim against either their employer or the vessel itself. Failure to pay maintenance, cure and unearned wages may also subject the seamen’s employer to a claim for attorney’s fees and punitive damages.
Maintenance, cure and unearned wages are no-fault entitlements owed a seaman who is injured or becomes ill while in the service of the vessel. The injury or illness does not need to be related to the seaman’s actual work; or arise in the course of the seaman’s employment. Rather, the injury or illness need only arise while the seaman is in the service of the vessel.
Maintenance is a daily dollar amount meant to provide for the seaman’s basic room and board. Maintenance may include the seaman’s mortgage, rent, property insurance, electricity, heating fuel, and food. Maintenance is owed until the seaman reaches maximum medical improvement; or until such time as further medical treatment will not improve the seaman’s physical, mental or psychological condition.
Cure is the payment of the seaman’s medical costs; including costs for hospitals, doctors, physical therapy, prescriptions, other medication, counselors, psychologists, tests, x-rays, MRIs, CTs, required medical devices and travel expenses. Cure is owed until the seaman reaches maximum medical improvement; or until such time as further medical treatment will not improve the seaman’s physical, mental or psychological condition.
Unearned wages are what a seaman would have earned under the terms of his or her employment agreement/contract – or in the absence of an agreement/contract, through the remainder of the voyage of the vessel – had the seaman not been injured. That is, if a seaman cannot continue to work following injury or illness, the vessel employer will still likely owe the seaman certain amounts in unearned wages.
Maritime insurance is meant to cover a seaman’s claim for maintenance, cure and unearned wages. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling maintenance, cure and unearned wage claims. Our understanding of the maritime insurance and the maritime industry, coupled with our understanding of maritime injury claims, including Jones Act negligence, unseaworthiness, maritime wrongful death, and maintenance, cure and unearned wages, gives you the added edge in having us resolve your maritime injury or wrongful death claims – be it by settlement or trial.
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