You’re on a cruise, and you’ve waited your entire life to take this trip. The water is the color of a pure sapphire, the sky is a brilliant blue, the sights and sounds are mesmerizing… and then it happens. You unexpectedly become violently ill. You’re not sure where it came from, but you’re going to end up with medical expenses and extensive recovery time, and you wonder if the cruise line is responsible for paying for your injuries.

The answer in these cases isn’t always cut and dried, and it depends largely on the kind of illness and how you contracted it. Read about illness and injuries on cruise ships, how liability works in these situations, when you can sue and when an injury lawyer can help.

Cruise Illness and Negligence

The key to getting compensated for an illness aboard a cruise ship is proving negligence on the part of the cruise line or staff. Negligence means that someone failed to exercise their duty of reasonable care to other people. Someone had to do something really irresponsible (or failed to act in a responsible manner), and this act or failure to act had to cause the illness, in order for negligence to apply.

Common Shipboard Illnesses

There are three general types of illness that are often seen during cruises, which could potentially result from employee negligence. These are the norovirus, cases of food poisoning and outbreaks of Legionnaire’s Disease. Of the three, norovirus and food poisoning are often (though not always) mild and pass in a day or three. Legionnaire’s Disease is a life-threatening condition.

The Problem of Proving Liability

When it comes to the first two illnesses, it can be very hard to prove negligence on the part of the ship’s crew. Norovirus is a very common illness that it highly contagious. It can become epidemic before anyone even shows symptoms if even one person who has been infected comes aboard the ship.

Food poisoning is often the result of negligence by the ship’s crew. However, consider the case of a buffet—any one of the passengers who visits the buffet could infect the food if they failed to wash their hands before eating.

Legionnaire’s Disease, however, is an extremely serious illness which kills about 15% of those who contract it and comes from a bacteria which grows in warm, moist areas and thrives in hot tubs and plumbing systems. Outbreaks of this disease can often be traced to someone not properly heating the water in these areas to kill the bacteria.

Proving Negligence

In order to prove negligence, you’ll need to gather information, like how many others got the same illness, whether the crew took precautions against the outbreak, whether there were warnings or announcements if passengers were quarantined, and if the ship makes a deviation from its planned course.

Illness and Personal Injury Lawyers

If you get sick on a cruise and think negligence might have been responsible, it’s vital you secure the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer to help prove your case. If you live in the South Portland or Bangor area and need help, give Lowry & Associates a call today!