Articles Tagged with “Maintenance and Cure”

Florida Injured Crew Lawyer.jpgA landmark case from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana finds maritime companies are not entitled to repayment of maintenance and cure wrongly provided to injured seaman even if the crewmember lied on his employment application. Maintenance is a living stipend that employers must pay seamen injured while in service and subject to the call of the ship up until the time the medical condition plateaus. Cure is medical treatment for the injury.

A favorite tactic of maritime employers and ship owners when faced with a seaman’s lawsuit is to file a counterclaim seeking to recoup wrongly paid maintenance and cure benefits. Often times the defending company will scour the employment application and pre-employment medical disclosure forms then compare these statements with the injured seaman’s medical records for anything that may, in its view, be inconsistent. The company will then file a counterclaim seeking reimbursement based upon such inconsistency. This is ploy simply designed to scare the crew member into accepting a lower settlement than the true value of the case.

Facts of the Case

Sometimes crew members develop additional injuries or illnesses while on sick leave. Often times these new injuries or illnesses have nothing to do with the shipboard accident which placed them on sick leave in the first place. The question on the minds of these crew member is does the cruise line or ship owner have to pay for the medical treatment of these new injuries or illnesses? The answer is YES.

ankle xray.jpgUnder the maritime law doctrine of “maintenance and cure”, a cruise line or ship owner must provide a daily living allowance (Maintenance) and medical treatment (cure) to its crew members who were injured or when an illness manifested itself while subject to the call of the ship. This duty to provide maintenance and cure lasts until the crew member reached maximum medical cure. Maximum medical cure is simply the stage were the injury or illness is resolved or there is no further medical treatment that could better the crew member’s condition.

Courts have determined when a crew member is on sick leave, he is technically still subject to the call of the ship because when he gets better, he will go back to work. As such, these courts reasoned that since the crew member is subject to the call of ship while on sick leave, the cruise line or ship owner must provide maintenance and cure for any additional injuries or illnesses arising during that period. For example, if a crew member is on sick leave for bronchitis and on the way to the supermarket is hit by a car, the cruise line or ship owner must provide maintenance and cure for any injuries resulting from the car accident.