A seaman who is injured or falls ill in the service of his or her vessel is entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. Maintenance is one element of the M&C doctrine that helps seamen receive proper compensation. But how much can you get for it?
Standard Daily Maintenance Rates
Maintenance is a daily payment designed to provide you with the food and lodging you would have received aboard your vessel in the absence of your injury or illness. At its core, it serves to make sure your employer covers these vital expenses even at the time you don’t work due to your recovery.
Typically, vessel employers will pay a standard daily maintenance rate, for example, $35 per day. This rate used to be much lower and court decisions have helped set maintenance rates to actually cover real living expenses. They could be higher or lower depending on the area of the household expenses. This shows that maintenance is not a set rate that applies to all seamen across the board.
The Way to Get a Higher Maintenance Rate
Can you get a higher maintenance rate? In short, yes. The amount owed as part of the M&C benefits seamen receive should reflect your household expenses properly.
If you can demonstrate through actual expenditures for food and lodging that you incurred that you should receive more than what your employer decides to pay, then you could get a higher daily rate.
Say you get the right value for M&C, but how long can you receive the payments for? Learn about the period your employer has to pay M&C benefits before terminating them.