Cruise ships are often viewed as a relaxing and luxurious way to travel to several vacation spots in a relatively short period of time. However, they can also be a breeding ground for many personal injury claims. From slip and falls to food and air borne illnesses, a fun filled cruise ship can quickly turn into a vessel of disaster. This is what happened a few weeks ago aboard the Crown Princess, a cruise ship that is a part of the Princess Cruise Lines. CBS reported that approximately 94 passengers and 23 crew members became ill on a seven-day cruise scheduled to stop along several ports along the California Pacific Coast line. Ports of call included Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara and San Francisco. Although the Princess Cruise Line has not yet confirmed that it was in fact the Norovirus, they claimed they took several precautions to prevent the spread of the “stomach bug”. Even today, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has labeled the cause of the gastrointestinal (GI) illness on the Crown Royal as unknown. Regardless, several news reports still point to one culprit: the Norovirus.
What is the Norovirus?
The CDC describes the Norovirus as a virus that causes inflammation of your stomach and intestines. Symptoms typically include: stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The Norovirus spreads by contact with an infected person, touching contaminated surfaces or by contaminated food or water.
When is the Cruise Line Liable for a Passenger who is infected with the Norovirus?
Contracting the Norovirus on a cruise ship does not automatically mean that the cruise line will be held responsible. People get off and on cruise ships almost daily to sightsee and take part in different land excursions as a group. Therefore, it can be difficult to pin point how the virus spread. Like most personal injury cases, a cruise line’s liability will depend on two basic legal questions:
· Was the cruise line acting negligent?
· Was the cruise line’s negligence the cause of the Norovirus outbreak?
Determining whether a cruise line was acting negligent requires proving that the cruise line acted carelessly or unreasonably and because of that the passengers became ill. Often times this requires gathering evidence and evaluating whether the cruise line took certain precautions to mitigate the outbreak of the illness. Some examples of precautionary measures include: the quarantine of infected passengers, the issuance of health announcements and the frequent sanitization of bathrooms. Additionally, it is important to review each cruise line’s individual policy regarding lawsuits. Some cruise lines will only defend claims in a particular state regardless of where the injury occurred. Finally, most cruise lines require the prompt notice of a passenger’s intent to sue and expect them to file suit within a year of the incident.
Please note that if you were injured on a cruise ship or any boat, it is essential that you contact one of our experienced Northern California personal injury lawyers right away. Due to the strict nature of statute of limitations (amount of time you have to file a lawsuit against a defendant) and notice requirements, you don’t want to miss the chance to receive the compensation you deserve.