The Meaning of “Maximum Medical Improvement”

Information for Crew Members

medical treatment for injured seamenUnder American Law, all cruise companies and shipping companies have the obligation to provide free medical care to any crew member that has an accident, is injured, or gets sick on the ship, or working for the ship.  This obligation only ends when the crew member reaches Maximum Medical Improvement.  The purpose of this article is to explain the legal-medical meaning of Maximum Medical Improvement.

Many crew members think that Maximum Medical Improvement means the complete return of the same health they enjoyed before their accident, injury, or sickness.  This would be ideal, but it is not the legal-medical meaning of Maximum Medical Improvement.

The true legal-medical meaning of Maximum Medical Improvement is when the health of the crew member will not improve anymore even if the medical treatment continues.  The doctors in charge of the crew member’s treatment will determine if the crew member has reached Maximum Medical Improvement.  This is very important for the crew member.  Once the crew member reaches Maximum Medical Improvement, he loses his right to receive free medical care and he loses his right to receive monthly maintenance money.

For this reason, we advise all crew members to take advantage of all the medical care that the companies offer them and not to refuse it.
We also advise all crew members to maintain the most cordial relationship possible with their doctors.  The medical report that the doctor writes after the crew member reaches Maximum Medical Improvement can help him in his claim against the company.