"Maintenance and cure" are the equivalent of workers' compensation benefits for fishermen hurt while working. "Cure" is the payment for medical care. "Maintenance" is a daily payment for living expenses. Both maintenance and cure are supposed to be automatic and not require the involvement of a lawyer. However, boat owners abuse the system by paying substandard maintenance (Usually $25/day. Try living on $9,125 a year) and declaring the fisherman to be "cured" when his doctors say otherwise.
I have spent the last week trying to help a client on this issue. The injured fisherman called to say that his doctor's office was refusing to schedule an appointment because the boat had not paid the office bills. When the injured fisherman obtained a copy of his account, he discovered that the boat had not been paying for 4 months without the courtesy of even telling him. When I asked for an explanation, the boat announced that all maintenance and cure benefits was immediately terminated. The end result is that I was forced to file an emergency court motion to restart this that, as I write this, has not been ruled upon.
It is this type of conduct that shows why injured fisherman require legal representation. See http://www.junelawyer.com/