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What is maintenance and cure?

Workers in New York can typically receive compensation for on-the-job injuries through workers’ compensation. As a seaman, this coverage is not available for you. However, according to the U.S. Courts for the Ninth Circuit, federal law does require your employer to provide financial assistance when you have medical needs because of a physical condition that arose while you were in service on the vessel.

Your employer should cover the costs of both maintenance and cure. Maintenance describes the expenses related to your housing and food, as well as the transportation you need to access your treatment. Cure relates to coverage of your medical expenses. Being awarded this coverage does not relate to whether you were working at the time of your injury, and you may be eligible even if you were negligent. But, if you were behaving in an unacceptable manner such as being under the influence of alcohol or drugs when you were injured, you are unlikely to qualify.

If you are in an accident that occurs because of negligence on the part of your employer, you may be entitled to compensation through the Jones Act. In that case, you may have your medical expenses paid for through that award, and maintenance and cure would not apply. However, cure may still be awarded if the damages paid for the negligence claim do not include medical expenses.

Maintenance and cure last only until you have improved as much as you are likely to. For example, although you may never fully recover from the loss of a limb, once you have healed, received a prosthetic and been released by your health care provider, the financial assistance that covers your cure may come to an end. There are many factors that affect the award you receive, so the general information provided here should not be considered legal advice.

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