Under maintenance and cure law, you are only entitled to receive medical treatment that is curative in nature. This is in contrast to medical treatment which is considered to be palliative in nature.
One easy way to think of the difference between palliative and curative is will the medical treatment result in a betterment of your condition. In other words, medical treatment which is “curative” is a treatment which is actually getting you better. Palliative treatment, on the other hand, is a treatment which simply relieves pain. As crazy as it sounds, under maintenance and cure law your employer is not obligated to pay for medical treatment which simply relieves pain and does not result in a betterment or improvement of your condition. This can include many types of medical treatment including management as well as pain medications which many people stay on for years following a serious injury. Unfortunately, under maintenance and cure laws, your employer can likely argue that it is not responsible for payment of pain medication.
Even though palliative treatment is not covered under maintenance and cure law, remember that you can obtain pain management treatment as well as any other type of palliative treatment under the Jones Act if you are successful with a Jones Act claim. This is one major reason that you should always file a Jones Act claim with your general Maritime Law maintenance and cure claim. Many medical expenses which may not be covered under maintenance and cure laws are covered under the Jones Act.