We’ve all learned a lot during the coronavirus pandemic as epidemiologists have taken over the airwaves previously reserved for talk show hosts, rock stars, and newscasters. It’s impossible to do any channel surfing without encountering someone talking about issues such as viral spread, viral load, antibodies, and vaccines.
One of the most discussed issues is the increased risk of people gathering in large groups, particularly in close spaces. Cruise ships are at particular risk for the spread of viruses and bacterial infections due to having thousands of people near each other in dining rooms, swimming pools, and other common areas. Some have gone as far as to describe the average cruise ship as a “floating petri dish“. Long before the coronavirus was a concern, it was not uncommon for there to be news of ships being stricken with outbreaks of norovirus.
There have been some nightmarish scenarios for cruise ship passengers and crew in recent months, including a cruise ship that left Hong Kong in February only to be turned away from ports in Japan, Taiwan, Guam, and the Philippines due to fears that quarantined passengers had the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
What Are Your Rights As A Sick Passenger?
If you or a loved one has fallen ill while on a cruise ship it may be possible to pursue a personal injury claim to financially compensate you for your medical costs, pain and suffering, and other illness-related damages. Your eligibility for compensation will be dependent on whether you can demonstrate the cruise line or cruise ship staff acted negligently.
Evidence is crucial in these cases, as negligence must be demonstrated. For example, outbreaks of illnesses that thrive in moist environments such as Legionnaire’s Disease can be traced back to inadequate cleaning and maintenance of hot tubs. Illnesses such as food poisoning are much more difficult to trace back to cruise lines and staff due to the large numbers of people involved who encounter the ship’s food supply. This includes passengers who fail to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer prior to dishing up their plates at the ship’s buffet.
In the case of the coronavirus, it will be important to gather information such as:
- How many passengers were sick?
- When was illness first reported?
- Did the ship’s staff act and quarantine sick individuals?
- Was contact tracing performed?
- Did the ship’s staff get in contact with the appropriate authorities, such as the CDC?
The first step in finding out whether you have a case is to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney.