How long can seamen receive maintenance and cure (M&C) following an injury? The New Jersey federal court had to solve such a dispute in the case ‘In the matter of B&C Seafood LLC’. It is a good example that reveals more about M&C benefits as applied in real-life situations. Let’s see the full story.
The Sullivan Brothers’ Personal Injury Case
Twin brothers, Jesse and Kirk Sullivan, were crewmen aboard the F/V TOOTS II fishing vessel owned by B&C Seafood LLC. They suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after their vessel collided with another vessel. The seamen sought maintenance and cure claims for their psychological treatment and contended that the traumatic effects of the collision permanently prevented them from ever returning to work as commercial fishermen.
Given that the brothers' PTSD is permanent, the employer sought to terminate their maintenance and cure benefits. B&C argued that the benefits are not owed once a seaman’s condition is determined to be permanent such that he cannot return to work. Is the employer no longer obliged to pay, though?
The Vessel Employer’s Maintenance and Cure Obligation
The New Jersey federal court disagreed with B&C’s position. The court found that there is no legal basis to terminate maintenance and cure simply because a seaman’s condition is permanent. The Sullivans still needed medical treatment to get better.
The important takeaway for seamen is that you are entitled to M&C benefits until the point of what is called maximum medical improvement or MMI.
MMI means the point at which you are cured or at which no further improvement in your health is reasonably expected. So, it does not matter whether your condition is permanent. Instead, what matters is whether future treatment will improve it.
Wish to learn more about your M&C benefits as a seaman? Explore the most important points to remember about M&C claims.