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Ninety nine percent of fisherman and seafood processors don’t receive workers compensation. Instead they receive maintenance and cure.

Maintenance is meant to cover living expenses that the sick or injured worker would have received aboard the vessel. It’s calculated on a per diem basis and paid until the injured or sick worker reaches maximum medical improvement.

Cure relates to the employer’s obligation to pay for the sick or injured worker’s medical expenses. It includes all nursing, medicines, doctor and hospitalization related to the illness.

The injured worker’s right to maintenance and cure does not depend on proving that the vessel owner was negligent or that the vessel was unseaworthy. Maintenance and cure should be provided until the worker reaches maximum medical improvement from his illness or injury.

Employers have a strong incentive to pay maintenance and cure until the injured worker returns to maximum medical improvement. Refusal to make those payments subjects the employer to liability for punitive damages under Atlantic Sounding Company v. Townsend (holding that a ship owner who willfully or wantonly refuses to provide medical care to a seaman who was injured while in the service of the vessel could be subjected to punitive damages).

If you have questions about maintenance and cure please let me know. I’d be happy to answer them.

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