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Understanding Maintenance & Cure


In the maritime world, the terms “maintenance and cure” carry significant weight, especially for a “Jones Act seaman” who has suffered an “offshore injury” or a “tugboat injury.” These terms relate to the rights and benefits seamen are entitled to when they get injured on the job. Similar to workers compensation, but different in may aspects.  Understanding maintenance and cure is very important, not just for the injured worker, but also for his or her family because often it is the family member who has to make sure proper benefits are being provided to the injured worker.

**What is Maintenance and Cure?**

The laws of Maintenance and cure date back 100s of years to the days of old sea codes. Their primary purpose is to ensure that a seaman, who can’t work due to an injury or illness that occurred while on duty, receives basic living expenses and medical care until he or she has fully recovered or has reached the point of maximum medical improvement.

– **Maintenance** refers to the living expenses an injured seaman is entitled to while recovering. This typically includes daily expenses such as food, rent, utilities, and other necessities. The actual amount varies, but it’s meant to replicate the sustenance and shelter the seaman would’ve received had they been working on their vessel.

– **Cure** refers to the medical expenses related to an injury or illness. It encompasses treatments, surgeries, therapy, medications, and any other medical service necessary to treat the seaman’s condition.

**Who is Entitled to Receive Maintenance and Cure?**

To qualify for maintenance and cure, an individual must be classified as a “Jones Act seaman.” The Jones Act, or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal statute that protects American seamen when they’re injured on the job. It allows them to file claims and sue their employers for negligence.

A Jones Act seaman is typically someone who:

1. Is more or less permanently connected to a vessel or fleet of vessels in navigable waters and
2. Contributes to the vessel’s function or mission.

It’s important to note that being a ‘seaman’ under the Jones Act doesn’t solely apply to those who actively navigate the open waters. Workers on offshore oil rigs, floating cranes, and even certain types of river-based casinos can be considered seamen if they meet the criteria.  However, the test to determine “seaman status” can get very complicated which is one of the reasons you should always have an experienced Jones Act attorney to ensure the proper analysis is conducted.

If a Jones Act seaman gets injured, whether it’s an “offshore injury” sustained in the Gulf of Mexico or a “tugboat injury” while towing or pushing vessels along the Mississippi River, they are generally entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. The entitlement begins from the moment of injury or illness and continues until they have either fully recovered or reached a point where additional medical treatment won’t improve their condition.


Maintenance and cure serve as a protective cushion for seamen, ensuring they aren’t left destitute or without medical care following an offshore injury or injury on the Mississippi River. If you or someone you know is a Jones Act seaman and has suffered an offshore or tugboat injury, it’s crucial to understand your rights. Seeking qualified legal counsel can help navigate the complexities of maritime law and ensure that injured seamen receive the benefits they rightly deserve.

If you are a maritime worker who was injured on the job, contact Shlosman Law Firm for a free case evaluation. We are available to help and answer any questions you or your family may have regarding your rights.  As always, you will not pay anything unless and until we win your case. Schedule your appointment now at 504-826-9427.