Maintenance and Cure for Injured Seamen

Under the Jones Act and general maritime law, a seaman who is injured in the course and scope of his employment may recover "maintenance" and "cure" benefits from his employer, even if the employer was not negligent and the vessel was not unseaworthy. Maintenance and cure benefits are similar to workmen's compensation benefits; however, no government agency is involved in the administration of maintenance and cure benefits.

If an employer does not automatically pay maintenance and cure benefits to an injured seaman, the seaman must file a lawsuit against the employer in order to recover the benefits. In such an action, the seaman is not required to prove that the employer was negligent or that the vessel was unseaworthy. The seaman need only prove that he was injured in the course and scope of his employment.

A seaman may recover maintenance and cure benefits in addition to any damages he recovers due to the employer's negligence or the unseaworthiness of the vessel.


A seaman whose injury forces him to leave the vessel may recover maintenance benefits. Maintenance benefits are daily payments designed to compensate the seaman for the cost of his food and shelter while not living on the vessel. Maintenance payments are usually between $15 and $30 per day. An employer's obligation to make maintenance payments continues only until the seaman is fit for duty or reaches maximum medical improvement. A seaman reaches maximum medical improvement when his condition will not improve with additional medical treatment. Therefore, a seaman's right to maintenance payments ceases when his condition will not improve, even if he continues to be disabled.


Cure benefits are designed to compensate a seaman for the medical expenses caused by his injury. Cure benefits may include the cost of medical treatment, prescription drugs, hospitalization, and therapy. A seaman's right to cure benefits continues only until he reaches maximum medical improvement.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.