Under U.S. general maritime law, a shipowner has a duty to provide an injured crew member with maintenance and cure. Maintenance and cure is an ancient duty owed by shipowners to their crew members. The duty has been a part of maritime law since the admiralty and maritime sea codes were adopted in Middle-Age Europe.
A shipowner is required to provide lodging, meals, and necessary medical attention to its crew members who become ill or injured while in the service of the vessel. Maintenance is a per diem living allowance to provide a seaman with food and lodging similar to what he or she would receive working aboard the vessel.
“Cure” is payment of medical and hospital expenses up until the point that the crew member reaches maximum medical cure. You are entitled to both even if the shipowner was not responsible for your injuries. Maintenance and cure is a powerful doctrine on the side of ill and injured crew members. Mase Seitz Briggs knows how to make these laws work for you.
If you were entitled to maintenance and cure, and your employer reasonably denied it, then you are entitled to be paid the maintenance and cure you were owed. Maritime law provides for “tiered” damages for nonpayment of maintenance and cure. How much you deserve depends on whether your employer reasonably or unreasonably denied your maintenance and cure.
If your employer unreasonably rejected your maintenance and cure claim, you are entitled to be paid the maintenance and cure you were owed and to recover compensatory damages caused by the employer’s unreasonable denial. These damages could include aggravation of your condition or your prolonged pain and suffering. In some instances, interest can be recovered if you have had to spend money “out of pocket” because your maritime employer would not pay you the maintenance and cure that you were due.
If your maritime employer’s failure to pay maintenance and cure was willful and in bad faith, they could also be liable for attorney’s fees and punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish and deter others from acting in the same way. Courts typically find this higher level of fault when the shipowner’s actions were “callous and recalcitrant,” “arbitrary and capricious,” or “willful and persistent.”
The law surrounding this tiered analysis is complex, and our maritime trial attorneys had a significant role in creating it. Learn more about the case our firm handled that established the three-tiered damages model for failure to pay maintenance and cure.
Mase Seitz Briggs has decades of experience handling maintenance and cure claims. We know how to get you the maximum compensation following an illness or injury.