There is a standard in awarding maintenance and cure (M&C) benefits to injured or ill seamen. It should guarantee that you can have medical and household expenses covered for the time of your recovery. But how long can you get M&C payments from your employer?
The Period of Maintenance and Cure Compensation
If you are injured or fall ill in the service of your vessel, then you’d need enough time to recuperate until you are fit to return to work. In more complex situations involving severe injuries, injured seamen may not even be able to return to performing their duties at sea.
Whatever the case is, your employer owes you maintenance and cure benefits for the period that you are receiving medical treatment. These benefits are owed regardless of fault until the point of what is called maximum medical improvement.
What Is Maximum Medical Improvement?
Maximum medical improvement or MMI means the point at which “it appears probable that further treatment will result in no betterment of the seaman’s condition.” Courts have also described maximum medical improvement as the point at which further treatment is “palliative” rather than “curative.”
Usually, the treating physician would decide when you have reached the point of maximum care. MMI doesn’t mean that you have fully recovered, it confirms that your condition is as good as it gets under treatment. So, your M&C benefits stop when the doctor declares you at MMI.
MMI is a medical determination and the employer bears a heavy burden of demonstrating that it was appropriate to terminate maintenance and cure benefits. Learn about a very common defense that is used to defeat seamen’s claims for M&C benefits.