When a seafarer slipped and fell on his back, he was referred to a shore doctor who initially diagnosed him with acute lumbago and recommended repatriation for further examination. When the seafarer filed a complaint for full disability benefits with the Labor Arbiter, the latter decided to grant him such benefits.
After the accident, the company-designated physician diagnosed the seafarer with a grade “10” disability and was scheduled to undergo a bone scan. The seafarer did not attend the scan and decided to consult a personal doctor who determined him to be unfit to work as a seaman. Thus, the seafarer filed a complaint for full disability benefits with the Labor Arbiter.
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The Labor Arbiter determined that the seafarer is suffering from a grade “6” disability and based the award of benefits on said finding. When the case reached the Supreme Court, the award of the Labor Arbiter was repeated.
The doctors were recommending that the seafarer had to undergo at least a bone scan to determine his current condition while undergoing treatment. In this regard, it was correct to argue that the seafarer abandoned his treatment. However, the fact that seafarer’s chosen doctor required the conduct of further tests on the seafarer is an admission that his diagnosis of permanent total disability is incomplete and inconclusive, and thus unreliable.
The Court decided that the seafarer might have treated the company-designated physician’s grade “10” temporary diagnosis as the final assessment of his condition, resulting in him consulting a personal doctor and filling a complaint for full disability benefits. The Court added that given his position in the employment relation, his distrust for the company is not completely unwarranted, and as such, hte seafarer is entitled only to compensation equivalent to or commensurate with his injury as determined by the Labor Arbiter.