Getting sick or contracting an illness while on a cruise is a far more common occurrence that most people think. When cruise passengers do end up sick, one of the first questions that many of them have is whether or not they can sue the cruise line for causing their illness. The short answer is yes, you can sue a cruise ship for making you sick. However, the fact is that there are generally very few situations where the cruise line will be held legally liable for an illness outbreak that occurs onboard one of its ships. That being said, there have still been plenty of cases where cruise lines were held liable for virus outbreaks. In this sense, it might be worth suing depending on the specific circumstances surrounding your illness.
Assumption of Risk in Cruise Ship Illnesses
Situations where an outbreak of the flu or the common cold occurs on board are almost never worth pursuing legal action over. In cases of common, widespread illnesses such as these, the cruise line can easily claim that you contracted the illness somewhere other than on the ship. Furthermore, the cruise line will usually be able to successfully claim that contracting these common illnesses is a normal risk that occurs any time a person is in close quarters with such a large group of people. This meets the legal definition of assumption of risk, as the court will generally side with the cruise line in that the passenger should have reasonably assumed that there a risk of getting sick on the cruise.
Illnesses Caused by Negligence
In order to be able to successfully sue the cruise line for your illness, you will need to be able to legally prove that the illness was caused by negligence on the part of the cruise operator or its employees. This is obviously going to be nearly impossible if you were the only person that got sick on the cruise, which means you will have a much better chance of your suit being successful in cases where multiple passengers contracted the same illness. That being said, there are still only a few specific illnesses where it can generally be proven that the crew’s negligence directly contributed to the spread of the illness.
Food poisoning is one such case where a cruise line could be held responsible. The majority of food poisoning cases are often directly contributed to employee negligence on behalf of a person preparing or handling the food. Failing to properly wash one’s hands or improperly handling or storing perishable items are fairly common causes of food poisoning. Still, the fact that food poisoning is so frequently connected to negligence means that it is often not necessary to prove exactly what contributed to the outbreak. The simple fact that food poisoning occurred on the ship and caused multiple passengers to become sick is sometimes enough to see cruise lines held responsible.
Outbreaks of the norovirus are also fairly common on cruise ships, and this is another case where it may be possible to sue the cruise line for your illness. However, the fact that the norovirus is so highly contagious means that the outbreak could be caused by an infected passenger. For this reason, it will be necessary to somehow show that the cruise line’s negligence directly contributed to the outbreak. This is where it will be of huge benefit to hire a personal injury law firm that has experience in cruise illnesses in order to increase your chances of success.
Legionnaire’s disease is generally one of the most serious illnesses that can occur on a cruise ship. The disease, which has approximately 15% fatality rate, is caused by a bacteria that tend to grow in warm water environments. Still, the bacteria is fairly easy to kill, which means that it can usually be assumed that any outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease that occur on board a cruise ship were caused by employee negligence. In this case, you stand a very good chance of receiving a settlement for your illness.
The fact is that the burden of proof is generally on you as the passenger, which means you’ll need to be able to provide evidence that your illness was caused by negligence. This makes it absolutely essential that you choose an experienced personal injury attorney. When you hire an attorney, they will first examine the terms and conditions of your ticket to see how they impact your ability to file a lawsuit. As well, they will examine the evidence to see whether you have a valid claim that can stand up in court, which can help you to avoid the costs of a frivolous lawsuit that you have no hope of winning.