Crew Illness Claims Handling





As P&I Correspondents, we are representing Shipowners in local courts in illness cases. Needless to say that local courts are quite favorable to claimants in illness-related claims. Sometimes they have a pro-labor approach to such category of claims. The claimants pass allegations that their health problems occur due to hard work onboard the vessel and other factors. Moreover, sometimes we faced with difficulties in the collection the evidence about the pre-employment illness of seafarer due to provisions of local Law concerning to confidentiality of information about a person’s state of health.



Case study



In a recent case, a seafarer claimed disability compensation due to tuberculosis, stating that his disability occurred during his employment and consequent delay in his repatriating and hospitalization. The lawyer was appointed by the seafarer. We arranged duly apostilled power of attorney to represent Shipowners in court. We sent our attorney’s inquiry to the various medical facilities, appointed medical experts and received the medical documentation. Despite the seafarer’s clean PEME certificate and analysis on various criteria, it was proved that the seafarer had pre-employment problems prior to the employment. We submitted the collected valid legal evidence (medical certificates/reports/experts conclusion) that proved that the seafarer had a pre-employment illness and Shipowners are not liable for any delay in his repatriation and considerable deterioration of his state of health. We asked medical advice from our medical consultants from PEME accredited clinics, medical experts from tuberculosis hospital and they confirmed that the seafarer had general illness not related to the performance of his professional duties onboard.



Result



In the court, we reached an amicable agreement on a reasonable amount (20,000 USD) versus the original claim for 85,000 USD. The vessel was not detained or arrested. Other auxiliary demands such as moral damage, legal costs, medical and rehabilitation costs, etc. were rejected.



P&I Correspondents recommendations:



• Appoint Legal P&I Correspondents with appropriate qualification and experience for handling illness claims.

• Start negotiations with the seafarer’s lawyer immediately and request true and valid medical documents with the seafarer’s disability degree, current status and recovery prospects.

• Collect all medical documents (reports, certificates) as evidence related to the seafarer’s state of health, request appointing medical examination preferably at Club’s PEME accredited clinic. All collected medical documents should be forwarded to Shipowners/Club without delay.

• Send a lawyer’s inquiry to the medical facilities concerning to the seafarer’s state of health and possible treatment before the employment.

• Keep permanent contact with the seafarer’s lawyer, doctors, medical experts, and P&I medical consultants.

• Repatriation of a deceased seaman: local regulation and documentary problems.

• Negotiate the amount of claim based on the seafarer’s medical documents available.

• Arrange to sign full and binding Receipt & Release at Notary Office in the presence of Legal P&I Correspondents and the seafarer’s lawyer, or in case of the litigation in the court, sign with the claimant’s lawyer settlement agreement in the courtroom to be duly approved by the court resolution.

• All compensation payments should be arranged against duly signed claim settlement documents only (R&R, settlement agreements approved by court resolution).