Vacationers often save up and look forward to taking a cruise because they see it as an opportunity to relax, get some sun, and pamper themselves. Nobody ever envisions their dream vacation ending with them confined to their bathroom due to diarrhea and vomiting.
Unfortunately, that is what happens when norovirus breaks out aboard a cruise ship. Due to the close quarters, crowded common areas, and passengers arriving from all over the world, norovirus can spread incredibly quickly throughout a ship and cause passengers and crew members alike to experience severe gastrointestinal distress.
If you suffered due to a norovirus outbreak on a cruise, contact cruise ship accident attorneys Lawlor, Winston, White & Murphey to learn more about your right to compensation. If your sickness was caused by the cruise line’s negligence, or if you received inadequate medical care after falling ill, you could be entitled to monetary compensation for any resulting medical expenses or emotional suffering.
Norovirus is a pathogen that causes the inflammation of the stomach or intestines, resulting in gastrointestinal distress. Symptoms include:
Most adults who contract norovirus experience severe symptoms for 1 to 3 days, sometimes longer. Young children and the elderly are at a higher risk to experience more severe symptoms.
Although the physical symptoms of norovirus tend to be relatively short-lived, people may remain contagious for up to 3 weeks. What is more, norovirus passes from person to person with incredible ease. It is also resistant to the soap and hand sanitizer that cruise ships provide, can live in the open for weeks, and thrives on both hard and soft surfaces, including doorknobs, stair rails, couches, and carpets. While most viruses take thousands of particles to make someone sick, norovirus can successfully infect someone with as few as 10 viral particles.
Although it is rarely lethal, norovirus has reportedly killed people indirectly because of the dehydration it causes. According to the Center for Disease Control, the virus causes roughly 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and as many as 800 deaths per year.
Even if norovirus on a cruise ship does not endanger your life, it can cause major physical and mental suffering while you’re experiencing the symptoms, and you should not have to suffer silently if it was the cruise line’s fault you contracted the illness. Here are a few of the ways the negligence of cruise lines can lead to a norovirus outbreak:
Failure to catch an outbreak in a timely manner. If a cruise line does not realize that some passengers on their ship have become ill, they may not take proper actions in time to contain the virus.
Improper sanitation. Many cruise lines participate in the Center for Disease Control’s Vessel Sanitation Program, which regulates the way they clean their ships. However, if you caught norovirus on a ship that was not part of this program or did not follow the regulations, your illness may have been due to improper sanitation.
Food poisoning. Certain filter-feeding shellfish, like oysters, can carry norovirus without experiencing symptoms. If cruise lines serve infected shellfish or other improperly prepared food to their guests, they may cause gastrointestinal distress.
Close quarters. The more passengers they carry, the more money cruise lines make, so many cruises pile on their passengers and keep them in very close quarters. Norovirus already travels easily—staying in small cabins and sharing common spaces like dining rooms and swimming pools certainly doesn’t help.
Mishandling of an outbreak. After passengers fall ill, some cruise lines may make the situation worse by overcrowding their infirmary or forcing passengers to be isolated in their rooms rather than giving them proper medical attention.
In the past 20 years, there have been close to 20 confirmed norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships. There have also been some notable cases reported during the last few years, including:
You may have contracted norovirus from another passenger, but if the conditions on a cruise ship are what led you and others to fall ill, then the cruise line should be held responsible. Cruises that mismanage a norovirus outbreak may also be liable, and if you suffered both physically and emotionally due to a cruise line’s mistreatment, you need to talk to an experienced cruise ship injury lawyer – that means someone licensed to practice maritime law and who knows the ins and outs of this particular practice area.
The lawyers at Law Office of Andrew Winston have been practicing maritime law and handling cruise ship injury and illness cases for over 70 years collectively, and they can help you get the compensation you deserve, whether you were a passenger whose vacation was ruined or a crew member who was exposed to unsanitary conditions. Do not wait until your statute of limitations has passed—contact Lawlor Winston today. You can schedule a free consultation by calling The Law Office of Andrew Winston by calling us at 954-606-6606, or toll-free at 866-306-9606 or by filling out a convenient online case review form.
The attorneys at the Law Office of Andrew Winston work on a contingency basis, which means that you won’t have to pay any attorney fees or the cost of representation unless they successfully recover monetary compensation for you.