The Seaman’s Rights to Benefits

Merriam Law Fishing Boats Wide

Seamen (including fishermen) who get hurt or fall ill while working are entitled to the following benefits:


Seamen who can’t work are entitled to a daily living stipend that substitutes for the free room and meals they would have received on board had they not been injured or taken ill. It includes only basic living expenses such as rent, utilities and food. Ill and injured seamen are not necessarily limited to the rates of maintenance in their contracts of employment. The entitlement to maintenance continues until the seaman achieves “maximum cure”, or as good as one is going to get.


“Cure” means that the vessel owner is responsible for paying medical bills. “Cure” is used in the Latin sense of “cura”, as in healing, rather than an absolute cure. The vessel owner must pay medical bills for as long as medical attention will result in improvement of the seaman’s condition. Seamen are not required to see the company doctor.

Unearned Wages

Unearned wages are part of the maintenance and cure entitlement, and consist of wages the seaman would have earned during the contemplated period of employment had he or she not been injured or taken ill.

To get money for pain and suffering and for future lost wages (after the period for which unearned wages are due), the seaman must show that his or her illness or injury resulted from an unsafe condition aboard ship.