ALPHA SHIP MANAGEMENT CORPORATION/JUNEL M CHAN and/or CHUO-KAIUN COMPANY, LIMITED, Petitioners,
ELEOSIS V. CALO, Respondent.
G.R. No. 192034 January 13, 2014
PONENTE: Del Castillo
When is temporary total disability of an employee considered permanent?
- When so declared by the company-designated physician within the period allowed
- Upon expiration of the maximum 240-day medical treatment period in case of absence of a declaration of fitness or permanent disability.
Does the above rule apply to seafarers?
Yes. Under the law while the seafarer is partially injured or disabled, he is not precluded from earning or doing the same work he had before his injury or disability or that he is accustomed or trained to do. Otherwise, if his illness or injury prevents him from engaging in gainful employment for more than 120 or 240 days, as the case may be, he shall be deemed totally and permanently disabled.
State the rule in declaring the seafarer’s fitness by the company-designated physician.
the company-designated physician is expected to arrive at a definite assessment of the seafarer’s fitness to work or permanent disability within the period of 120 or 240 days. That should he fail to do so and the seafarer’s medical condition remains unresolved, the seafarer shall be deemed totally or permanently disabled.
Consequently, if after the lapse of the stated periods, the seafarer is still incapacitated to perform his usual sea duties and the company-designated physician had not yet declared him fit to work or permanently disabled, whether total or permanent, the conclusive presumption that the latter is totally and permanently disabled arises.
Applying the said rules in this case:
it can be said that an employee’s disability becomes permanent and total when so declared by the company-designated physician, or, in case of absence of such a declaration either of fitness or permanent total disability, upon the lapse of the 120 or 240-day treatment period, while the employee’s disability continues and he is unable to engage in gainful employment during such period, and the company-designated physician fails to arrive at a definite assessment of the employee’s fitness or disability. This is true “regardless of whether the employee loses the use of any part of his body.”
Respondent was repatriated on October 12, 2004 and underwent treatment by the company-designated physician, Dr. Cruz, until October 14, 2005, or for a continuous period of over one year – or for more than the statutory 120-day or even 240-day period. During said treatment period, Dr. Cruz did not arrive at a definite assessment of respondent’s fitness or disability; thus, respondent’s medical condition remained unresolved. It was only on July 18, 2006 that respondent was declared fit to work by Dr. Cruz. Such declaration, however, became irrelevant, for by then, respondent had been under medical treatment and unable to engage in gainful employment for more than 240 days. Pursuant to the doctrine in Kestrel, the conclusive presumption that the respondent is totally and permanently disabled thus arose. The CA is therefore correct in declaring that respondent suffered permanent total disability.
As far as the parties are concerned, respondent’s medical treatment and disability continued for more than 240 days without any finding or diagnosis by the company-designated physician that he was fit to resume work. Thus, consonant with law and jurisprudence, respondent is entitled to a declaration of permanent total disability, as well as the corresponding benefit attached thereto in the amount of US$60,000.00.