Maintenance and Cure

Injuries can be costly and cause expenses to stack up. Fortunately, seamen have a right to maintenance and cure. Maintenance is payments seamen receive to cover their living expenses after an injury or illness. Cure is compensation for the medical costs stemming from an illness or injuries. Unfortunately, many maritime employers seek to deny their employees this payment along with funds they owe their employees after the employee has been injured on the job.

Maintenance and Cure Claims in Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska

If you’ve been injured and denied maintenance and cure, or your payments do not meet your needs, the maintenance and cure lawyers at BoatLaw, LLP can help you recover what is owed to you, along with any other compensation you are due. Our lawyers will carefully review your case and seek every cent your employer should be paying to you. Call us today at 1 (800) 262-8529 or send an online message to set up a free consultation to discuss your claim.

BoatLaw, LLP represents clients with maintenance and cure claims coast-to-coast in courts in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California. Our offices are located in Bellingham and Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and San Francisco, California.

Maintenance and Cure Information Center

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Seamen’s Right to Maintenance

“Maintenance” refers to the daily living expenses that a seaman incurs. It covers basics like food and shelter. These might seem simple, but it can be very difficult to get by if you’re injured and cannot work. Your right to maintenance continues until you have reached maximum cure, or until you are deemed fit to return to work.

Maintenance is similar to workers’ compensation, often called “L&I” in Washington. Seamen are usually ineligible for workers’ comp claims but have a right to maintenance.

Maintenance payments depend on the particular circumstances of the employee and can depend on where you live. Typically, maintenance payments come to about $35 to $55 per day in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California, even in areas with high cost of living. Clearly, this is a low amount.

An experienced maintenance and cure attorney can address the problem of this low amount either directly with your employer or through the civil recovery process.

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 Sailors’ Right to Cure

Medical bills are to be covered by your right to cure. If you are injured, you may incur extensive medical bills. You may have hospital, doctor’s, surgery, medication, physical therapy, massage, work hardening, diagnostic testing, ambulance bills and more. If your employer fails to provide appropriate maintenance and cure, problems could worsen, leading to greater medical difficulties, as well as increased pain and suffering.

If you are a seamen who became injured or ill while working in the service of a vessel, under your right to cure, your employer is supposed to pay for all your reasonable and necessary medical bills. You also have a right to select your own doctor, so you can find someone you know will be looking out for your best interests. Beware if your employer seeks to refer you to someone—that person might be looking out for the company’s bottom line.

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Maintenance and Cure Claims in Maritime Courts

All seamen have the right to maintenance and cure if they become ill or injured while working in the service of a vessel, even if the injury occurs shoreside. This right not only includes injury caused by someone else’s negligence or the vessel’s unseaworthiness, but also instances of injury where no one was at fault, or even if you were at fault.

Many employers either seek to avoid paying maintenance and cure by delaying or denying the payments or paying a lower amount than they should. They may claim your injury or illness was due to an undisclosed pre-existing condition. They may say you need to seek a second opinion from a company doctor, and that doctor may say your medical care isn’t warranted.

A maritime personal injury lawyer can help you recover the amount you are owed. Usually, your maintenance and cure claim will be filed along with a Jones Act claim for negligence and unseaworthiness, so that you may be compensated for everything you are due. In some cases when the employer is wantonly and willfully withholding maintenance and cure, punitive damages may even be available. When it is shown that the employer unreasonably denied your maintenance and cure, compensation for attorney’s fees is also generally available.

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BoatLaw, LLP | Right to Cure Attorneys in Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska

If you’re a seaman who has been injured on the job, you are owed maintenance and cure regardless of who was at fault for the injury. The experienced maintenance and cure lawyers at BoatLaw, LLP can help you win the full amount you are owed, for maintenance and cure and any other claim. Call us today at 1 (800) 262-8529 for a free consultation.


  • The Maritime Law Association of The United States
    The Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA) was founded in 1899. Its formation was prompted by the organization, some three years earlier, of the International Maritime Committee.
  • Washington State Bar Association
    The Washington State Bar Association operates under the delegated authority of the Washington Supreme Court to license the state's nearly 40,000 lawyers and other legal professionals.
  • Oregon State Bar
    The Oregon State Bar is a government agency in the U.S. state of Oregon. Founded in 1890 as the private Oregon Bar Association, it became a public entity in 1935 that regulates the legal profession.
  • Alaska Bar Association
    The Alaska Bar Association is a mandatory bar association responsible to the Alaska Supreme Court for the admission and discipline process of attorneys for the State of Alaska.