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Seafarer injury claims - Philippines set to pass Anti-Ambulance Chasing Act

Seafarer injury claims - Philippines set to pass Anti-Ambulance Chasing Act
The Philippines is set to pass an Anti-Ambulance Chasing Act, which will clamp down unscrupulous practices by lawyers representing seafarers in personal injury cases.

With Filipino officer level seafarers entitled to $250,000, and ratings $125,000, in compensation if judged to be fully disabled when injured at work ambulance chasing lawyers have been bringing inflated injury claims that have become of increasing concern to shipowners and managers.

Gerardo Borromeo, ceo of Philippines Transmarine Carriers (PTC), said that the Anti-Ambulance Chasing Act was about to be put into law.

At present ambulance chasing lawyers take up to 50% of awards as their fees and can also lend money to the claimant while cases are ongoing. As a result claimants can end up receiving well under 50% of the compensation paid out. In one case a widow entitled to $80,000 in compensation received just $23,000.

Under the new Act, which is expected to become law in the next two – three months, lawyers bills will be capped at 10% of the compensation and lending to claimants outlawed.

With new law Borromeo said that seafarer claims would be heard fairly and without frivolous decisions.

According to industry sources runners working for ambulance chasing lawyers wait at hospitals and airports on the look for injured seafarers and their families. The issue has particularly affected seafaring versus other foreign worker categories from the Philippines due to the higher wages seafarers are paid and levels of compensation available.

The Philippines is the largest labour supplying nation to the international shipping fleet with about the 30% of seafarers coming from the Southeast Asian country.