The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) thru the Social Security System (SSS) recently granted compensation benefits to a chief steward who suffered from injuries on left elbow while onboard a seafaring vessel.

The seaman was employed by Knutsen Philippines Inc. and Knot Management, and served as chief steward on board M/T Carmen Knutsen under a 6-month employment contract.

On August 15, 2016, while cleaning, arranging, and taking out frozen food at the meat room, he fell from the plastic tray that he was standing on and, as a result, he sustained injuries on his left elbow.

Accordingly, he filed a claim for disability benefits at the SSS and was denied because he lacked the documentary requirement to support the compensability of his injury. According to the seaman, he was unable to secure any of these documents – Master’s Report, Records of Consultations done abroad, Pre-employment Physical Exam, and Job description – due to a case that he filed against his shipping agency at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

In light of his case, the NLRC found credence that the seaman actually sustained the compensable injury onboard as he presented pieces of evidence which consisted of electronic communication via Facebook addressed to his son, who was a licensed physical therapist like photos of his injured elbow and their succeeding dialogues which were consistent with that of a patient-father, consulting his therapist son. His action is consistent with human nature and human experience according to NLRC.

The ECC, upon review, ruled in favor of the seaman. Records revealed that he filed a case before the NLRC and consequently, obtained a favorable decision. The judgment from the said coequal, quasi judicial body could be used as evidence to support his claim for EC benefits. ECC’s judgment was rendered after taking into consideration the medical findings of several physicians who examined the said seaman, including the photos and series of electronic communications between the seaman and his son, who is a licensed physical therapist, were considered substantial evidence to grant the case of the seaman. Thus, the ECC, like the NLRC, found credence in these pieces of evidence.

Thus, the SSS was ordered to award the seaman’s claim for disability benefit plus reimbursement of medical expenses he incurred due to his injury.