Markus McMillin, a San Francisco-based claims executive for UK P&I Club, reviews the issues to consider when family members travel to support a sick or injured crewmember.
“There are many concerns for the Member and UK P&I Club when a crewmember is seriously ill or injured abroad. First is the health and wellbeing of the crewmember. All parties want the best medical care available under the circumstances and, if possible, to repatriate the crewmember to his or her home country as soon as possible under medically safe conditions.
“However, in circumstances where the crewmember cannot be safely repatriated in a relatively swift time period, the Club often finds that their family wants to travel to support them. Each situation is unique, but there are a number of important issues to consider when a family member wants to travel to a sick or injured crewmember:
· The projected time of repatriation versus when the family member will arrive to provide support.
· Does the family member have a passport, and is a visa required to visit the country where the crewmember is hospitalised?
· Could the family member have an ulterior motive? For example, they may try to prevent any effort to repatriate the crewmember if they are trying to establish grounds for bringing a law suit in the country where the crewmember is being treated.
· It is important for the Member to review whether there is an employment contract with a clear arbitration clause that should be enforced in the event the crewmember’s family took any steps to establish jurisdiction or to file suit where the ill or injured crewmember is hospitalised.
· It should be made clear in advance that there is no guarantee the family member will join the crewmember on the trip home.
· What the anticipated cost of sending the family member to the crewmember’s location will be, including an airfare, food, lodging, phone cards, an interpreter and contact/facilitator.
· What the duration of the family member’s stay is likely to be.
· Does the treating hospital have the equivalent of social workers who often provide support for family members, especially when planning discharges?
· The Member must ensure that the family member who asks to travel to support the crewmember is, indeed, family.
“There are many issues to consider regarding sending a family member to support an ill or injured crewmember. The facts of each case dictate whether the Member and/or Club should aid the family member in doing so. Careful consideration should be given to all the issues surrounding whether or not to aid a family member in traveling to support an ill or injured crewmember.”
Source: UK P&I Club