Can I Take Legal Action if I was Exposed to Coronavirus on a Cruise Ship?
With the coronavirus pandemic affecting people across the globe, it’s natural to be concerned for the health and safety of our loved ones. It is imperative, now more than ever, that we continue to stay proactive and vigilant about washing hands, limiting contact with others, and staying home as much as possible. These precautions can truly save lives. But what happens if you think you or a loved one may have already been exposed to COVID-19 while on a cruise ship recently?
There have been many reports that have raised questions about the treatment of sick passengers aboard cruise ships, how effectively passengers were quarantined, and whether the cruise lines committed any negligence. Cruise ship passengers who have been exposed to the coronavirus may be able to seek compensation if it is determined that cruise lines were, in fact, negligent. Therefore, there are several actions you should take if you believe you or a loved one could have been exposed to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) aboard a cruise ship.
Are Cruise Ships Liable for Medical Malpractice?
First, it’s important to establish whether cruise lines can be held liable for medical malpractice. The short answer is — yes. In 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (which is the last appellate court right below the US Supreme Court) issued a groundbreaking decision that allows cruise passengers the ability to sue the cruise line if they have been injured due to medical malpractice while onboard. The cruise industry is now held accountable for the safety of its passengers, which means taking the necessary steps to work to keep sicknesses as coronavirus contained.
If a cruise line does not follow protocol, passengers could potentially file a lawsuit for negligence. For example, you may have a case if you believe cruise ship crew members were negligent in:
- Failing to screen sick passengers
- Failing to keep sick passengers quarantined from healthy passengers
- Failing to clean the ship after sick passengers leave
There have already been lawsuits filed against the Grand Princess cruise line’s owner claiming the proper safety protocols were not followed and passengers fear they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
The Next Steps
So what should you do if you believe you or a loved one may have been exposed to coronavirus on a recent cruise? Of course, you should first watch for signs and symptoms of the coronavirus to develop and be in touch with your healthcare provider. On the legal side, there are a few important steps you should take immediately to increase the likelihood of a successful case.
Get Proper Evidence
It can be difficult to remember to take photos and gather witnesses and crew member names, but you need them to win your case. You need to get the evidence when it’s fresh. Write down which crew members you found to be negligent and all the exact details of how and why you feel you may have been exposed to coronavirus.
Take Quick Action
Remember that procrastination kills. Most cruise lines require you to send a notice of claim within 6 months of your injury/exposure. You must then file your negligence case within 1 year of the injury. This is an exceptionally short amount of time. Time is your enemy. Compare a typical 4-year timeline to sue for car accidents to a 6 month time period to file a notice of claim, and only 1 year to file the cruise injury case. If you wait, you lose.
Hire a South Florida Lawyer
Almost every cruise line requires you to bring your case to southern Florida. If you don’t have a lawyer with an office close to the federal court in the southern district of Florida, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Hiring a lawyer outside of South Florida is the fastest way to lose your cruise ship case.
At LaBovick Law Group, we’re qualified and licensed to file and win your cruise ship medical malpractice/negligence case in South Florida. Don’t make the mistake of waiting, this could drastically impact your case and reduce the likelihood of you winning your case.
Check out our Coronavirus resource page for more great resources on keeping you and your family safe and healthy during this global pandemic. At LaBovick Law Group, we’re Warriors for Justice. Contact us today if you believe you or a loved one has been exposed to coronavirus aboard a cruise ship.