Maintenance and Cure | Virginia Maritime Lawyer

Compensation You May Be Entitled To After Being Injured

Virginia Tugboat Accident Lawyer - Richard SerpeSeamen who are injured while at sea are entitled to maintenance and cure from their employers.  This doctrine is one of the oldest in maritime law, and it has been traced back nearly 1000 years.  It does not matter if the illness or injury is work-related, as long as it occurs or manifests itself while the seaman is “in service to the vessel” and was not caused by the seaman’s own willful conduct.

The idea is that a healthy seaman lives and works on the ship so, if he is injured and can no longer enjoy the benefits of that home, he is entitled to room and board (maintenance) and medical care to cure him of the injury (cure).  These amounts are paid until the seaman is either fit to return to work or until he has reached a point where additional medical care will not help him.  Sometimes a seaman might be fit enough to return to work, so he will lose his right to maintenance, but additional medical care could help, so he would be entitled to additional cure.


Maintenance should include the cost of maintaining the seaman’s home, including rent or mortgage, taxes, insurance, and food.  Historically, employers got used to paying amounts much lower than this, around 8 to 12 dollars per day.  If the employer tries to pay a low amount like this, an experienced maritime lawyer will seek to show the court your ACTUAL cost of maintenance and seek a higher award.


Occasionally, an employer will try to force a seaman too use private medical insurance to pay the bills.  This is not generally a good idea for the seaman because often the “cure” obligation is more broad than that provided by insurance.  Cure should cover all related medical care, and also can include transportation expenses to see the doctors.

Your Right to Receive Maintenance and Cure

The right to maintenance and cure is so well-established that an employer that simply refuses to pay can be liable for punitive damages.  Also, if you are forced to sue to recover your maintenance and cure, you could receive an award of your legal fees.

Virginia Maritime Accident Lawyer Richard Serpe

If you are an injured seaman, you are entitled to maintenance and cure from your employer. Depending on the circumstances you may be entitled to other compensation under the Jones Act or other laws set in place to protect those injured on or near the water.

Attorney Richard Serpe has a Masters Degree (LLM) in maritime law from Tulane University School of Law, and has obtained the highest ranking (Proctor) from the Maritime Law Association of the United States. Contact Richard Serpe to discuss your rights. Their is no obligation, and the consultation is free.