Duty to Provide Prompt, Proper and Adequate Medical Care and Treatment to a Crewmember
One of the strongest obligations imposed upon the shipowner is to attend to the medical needs of its crew. The shipowner has a duty to provide prompt, proper and adequate medical care and treatment to its seamen. The obligation is so strong that is worth setting forth the following language from a frequently cited Supreme Court of the United States decision which defines the extensive nature of this obligation:
The duty to provide proper medical treatment and attendance for seamen falling ill or suffering injury in the service of the ship has been imposed upon the shipowners by all maritime nations. When the seaman becomes committed to the service of the ship has been imposed upon the shipowners by all maritime nations. When the seaman becomes committed to the service of the ship the maritime law annexes a duty that no private agreement is competent to abrogate, and the ship is committed to the maintenance and cure of the seaman for illness or injury during the period of the voyage, and in some cases for a period of the voyage, and in some cases for a period thereafter. This duty does not depend upon fault. It is no merely formal obligation and it admits of no merely perfunctory discharge. Its measure depends upon the circumstances of each case – the seriousness of the injury or illness and the availability of aid. Although there may be no duty to the seaman to carry a physician, the circumstances may be such as to require reasonable measures to get him to one, as by turning back, pulling in to the nearest port although not one of call, hailing a passing ship, or taking other measure of considerable cost in time and money. Failure to furnish such care, even at the cost of a week’s delay, has been held by this Court to be a basis for damages.
The law firm of Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A., has handled many claims of medical negligence arising out of the failure to provide prompt, proper and adequate medical treatment to a crewmember. One example is a case where a crewmember was suffering from high blood pressure which was not adequately diagnosed and treated while the crewmember was onboard the ship. As a result, the crewmember suffered a stroke and was seriously disabled. The law firm of Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A. successfully obtained a jury verdict of 3.3 Million Dollars on behalf of the seaman who suffered a stroke, providing the seaman and his family with adequate funds to provide for his well-being and medical needs for the rest of his life. Another case handled by our firm involved a crew member who suffered kidney failure due to lack of prompt, proper and adequate medical care and treatment aboard a cruise ship. Our firm obtained a multi-million dollar settlement for the crew member.