Our lawyers routinely handle cases where the crew members’ conditions worsen or new injuries occur due to the substandard medical treatment of the doctors selected by their employers.
Under maritime law, an employer has the duty to provide prompt, proper and adequate medical treatment to its sick and injured crew members. This means an employer is required to promptly select a suitable doctor for its injured crew members. Should the employer fail to carry out its duty, and the crew member’s condition worsens or new injuries arise, the employer is liable for those injuries. For example, should a crew member sustain an eye injury, and the employer selects a general practitioner who is not suitable to treat an eye injury, the employer will be liable should the crew member loose eyesight.
Furthermore, an employer is obligated to closely monitor the crew member’s medical care and intervene if the doctor provided is inadequate. This means if the doctor is not properly diagnosing and/or treating the sickness or injury, the employer has the duty to find another doctor who can properly care for the crew member.
In recent years, courts have begun to find employers strictly liable for the medical malpractice of the doctors they select even though there was nothing in the doctor’s past which could alert them that the doctor may not be suited to treat the injured crew member.
The bottom line is crew members have the right to be sent to qualified doctors should they get sick or hurt when subject to the call of duty. If the employer fails to provide quality doctors, they will become liable for any poor result.