Monday, July 18, 2011

Maintenance and Cure for Injured Fishermen

  I am travelling to Denver this week in a case involving an injured seaman.  A fisherman suffered a serious low back injury and has become a chronic pain patient.  The legal issue is how long the vessel is required to pay both medical expenses which the law calls "cure" and living expenses which the law calls "maintenance."  This gentleman has been under treatment for more than 4 years and has not recovered.  While no one expects a full recovery, the issue is whether he can be physically improved by ongoing treatment.

  Injured fishermen are legally "seamen."  Under the law, the vessel must pay both medical expenses and daily living expenses until the injured seaman reaches "maximum cure."  Maximum cure is the date when physical improvement in the underlying condition stops and ongoing treatment is only "palliative."  To put it another way, the vessel is required to pay to make the injured fisherman "better" but does not have to pay for "aspirin."  

  This is a complicated area of the law, particularly for fisherman whose injuries require ongoing treatment or whose medical treatment causes other medical complications like depression and chronic pain.  See