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Sustaining an injury while traveling for an employer

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2020 | Workplace Injuries

Workers injured while traveling for their employer may have a right to receive workers’ compensation for any harm or damages they incur. It does not usually matter where an accident takes place; an individual may seek a remedy from an employer for an injury sustained on the job.

A company that requires international travel, such as an airline or a cruise ship, may have its own onboard staff to provide medical treatment. A licensed onboard physician may treat injured passengers and the work crew. When an injured employee receives substandard care, however, his or her condition may deteriorate.

Jury orders cruise ship to pay injured worker $4 million

A cruise line employee sustained several broken ribs after a vehicle struck her while onshore at one of the ship’s ports of call. The former dining room attendant did not, however, receive the immediate care she required to heal from her injuries.

The ship’s medical staff failed to provide a correct diagnosis and informed her she should continue working. When the ship returned to the U.S., however, she visited a local physician who diagnosed three fractured ribs.

Serious injuries may result in a permanent disability

The injured employee required five months of treatment and then found she could no longer perform work as a server because of permanent nerve damage. As reported by USA Today, a jury found the ship’s medical staff negligent and awarded her $4 million in damages.

The verdict included $1 million for her pain and suffering and $2 million in lost wages. The amount reflects the lifetime income that she would have earned. As part of the court’s punishment for the cruise ship’s negligence, she also received $1 million in punitive damages.

An employer’s negligence should not worsen the harm

A company owes a duty of care to ensure its employees do not receive negligent treatment when hurt during the course of their work, even while traveling. Maintaining an accompanying medical team does not allow a company to cut corners or provide lackluster care. When negligence results in a permanent disability, a legal action may help to recover.

It is important to bear in mind that negligence committed by co-employees of the injured worker is generally covered by workers’ compensation programs, so that no separate recovery can be had.  The case reported in this post was very unusual and may not have come out the same way, under North Carolina law.  If you have questions about such a case, you should call a qualified lawyer.