A bevy of cruise ship customers have been marooned offshore for indefinite periods, with many of those customers ultimately proving to have caught the coronavirus while onboard. Florida, being home to several ports that regularly launch and receive cruise ships, has been a hotspot for cruise passengers who became infected with the coronavirus or were otherwise impacted by cruise lines’ lack of preparedness or sound judgement.
While cruise ship owners are afforded some liability protections under the Death on the High Seas Act, the coronavirus has introduced new questions. This act limits, in many cases, the type and number of damages that can be collected in cases of negligence that occur while on cruise ships and other offshore vessels. Those who have either been infected with coronavirus while on a cruise or were put at imminent risk of danger could have grounds for compensation, despite the potential limits of the Death on the High Seas Act.
The case of the Grand Princess cruise ship illustrates why many believe that coronavirus infections on one or more cruise ships may be the result of negligence. Some relevant facts include:
- A man died of coronavirus on a voyage aboard the Grand Princess
- At least 62 passengers who had been on a previous trip with that man were also onboard the Grand Princess when a ship-wide quarantine was ordered in early March, according to USA Today reporting
- The Washington Post reports that at least 100 passengers who were aboard the Grand Princess have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least two have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The case of the Grand Princess raises several questions, including:
- What qualifies as negligence, with respect to cruise ships and the coronavirus?
- Were passengers knowingly put at risk of infection by various decision-makers in the cruise ship industry?
- Do you personally have a right to pursue compensation if you were on a cruise ship with others who were ultimately deemed to be infected?
Continue reading to learn more about possible answers to these questions. Call our team at Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers today at (855) 529-0269 for a free consultation from a coronavirus cruise ship lawyer, if you or a loved one was infected with the novel coronavirus and was on a cruise ship shortly before your diagnosis.
Are Cruise Ships Liable for Passengers Who Were Infected with Coronavirus?
The issue of cruise ships’ liability for harm to passengers is generally more complicated than similar issues of negligence that occur on land. The Death on the High Seas Act , with the Extension of the Territorial Sea Change, came into effect in March of 1920, and its effect was to restrict the amount of liability that ship owners and operators could have in the case of a wrongful death.
Generally, the Death on the High Seas Act states that:
- Those whose family member dies within American territorial waters can only collect pecuniary damages for the loss.
- Such surviving family members are not entitled to collect non-pecuniary damages (such as pain and suffering) as the result of negligence that occurs on American territorial waters.
The Death on the High Seas act may limit the extent of damages that you could collect, as psychological harm (including distress) has proven common among those who have been confined to cruise ships for indefinite periods—through no fault of their own. However, the Death on the High Seas Act generally does not prevent you:
- From bringing a lawsuit in the case that your loved one dies as a result of coronavirus infection linked to their time on a cruise ship
- From bringing a lawsuit in pursuit of compensation for physical injury—possibly including coronavirus infection—that you sustained while on the cruise ship
- From bringing legal action if you believe that your life was put in immediate danger by the conditions of a cruise ship on which you were a passenger
The effectiveness of any lawsuits is ultimately determined by whether you collect compensation or not. This means that you will only know if ownership of a cruise ship is liable for your losses once they have (or have not) been ordered to compensate you by a jury—or through a settlement.
There are several indications that the increasing number of cruise ship passengers testing positive for coronavirus may have been put at risk of harm because of negligence, as suggested by the CDC’s report on the public health responses to COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships. You could have grounds for a lawsuit if:
- You were on a cruise ship where one or more passengers ultimately tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus)
- You tested positive for coronavirus while on a cruise ship, or after being released from a cruise ship
- You suffered other negative health consequences as the result of conditions on a cruise ship
- Your family member was infected or died as a result of coronavirus on a cruise ship
Speak with a coronavirus cruise ship lawyer to learn more.
What Are the Symptoms of Coronavirus?
Symptoms of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) appear to vary based on a number of individual characteristics, but Mayo Clinic states that the most common symptoms of coronavirus disease include:
- Persistent coughing and other respiratory problems such as difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- A fever
- Aching throughout your body
- Symptoms similar to that of the flu, such as sinus-related problems and a sore throat
CDC reports that some of the signs that coronavirus infection has reached an emergency stage may include:
- Signs that you are not receiving enough oxygen, such as a bluish hue in your face and lips
- Chest pains that do not go away
- Signs of confusion, disorientation, or lack of consciousness
There remains uncertainty about how the novel coronavirus manifests in different people. CDC reports that groups at higher risk for severe illness due to COVID-19 infection are:
- Older adults, which generally refers to those aged 65 years and greater
- Those with underlying autoimmune disorders
- Those with heart disease, those who are obese, and others with taxed cardiovascular systems
- Those with disorders or diseases that affect the lungs
- Those with liver disease, diabetes, and kidney problems
In addition to those with health conditions that could increase their risk of developing serious health problems sparked by coronavirus infection, some segments of the population are at a greater risk of infection based on their levels of contact with humans. Some of these groups may include:
- Healthcare workers, especially doctors and nurses
- Those who work in and around hospitals and other medical facilities
- Delivery drivers, who may come into contact with an inordinate number of people
- Those who live in crowded communities, such as nursing homes or apartment buildings where contact with others is more likely—or unavoidable
It has also become clear that there is a segment of the population who almost certainly have or have had coronavirus and yet experienced little to no symptoms. This reality may:
- Make it less likely that those who have coronavirus but do not experience any symptoms will get tested
- Result in those people coming into contact with others and infecting them, assuming that they are healthy and therefore not at risk to transmit the virus
- Result in a wider ripple effect of the coronavirus’ negative impact
If you or a loved one has experienced the symptoms of coronavirus (and even if you have not) getting tested is a good idea. If you are positive and were on a cruise ship at some point recently, you may be eligible for a lawsuit against a cruise line if they were negligent and may have caused your infection.
What Should I Do If I or a Loved One Caught Coronavirus On a Cruise?
There are two separate protocols for how you should react if you are either:
- Personally infected with the coronavirus, or have recovered from coronavirus infection originated from a cruise ship
- The loved one of somebody who has been infected by the coronavirus because of their time on a cruise ship
In either case, the first steps to take should be safety-related. Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing advises several steps that infected people (possibly including yourself) should take to protect themselves and others. Such steps include:
- Leaving home only to receive medical treatment, and calling the medical facility where you intend to receive treatment ahead of time to let them know that you are likely or certainly infected with coronavirus
- When you are at home, remaining as isolated as possible from others to minimize the risk that you transmit the virus to your loved ones, who could then transmit it to others in a domino effect of infection
- Wear a face mask at all times, aside from when you must eat or drink, or bathe
- Be vigilant and consistent about cleaning your hands, surfaces in your home, and your space in general
- Be consistent in taking all the required medications and other steps to improve your help as ordered by your doctor
Your health and the health of your loved ones is the most important factor in any discussion regarding the coronavirus. If you are somebody who is caring for a loved one who is likely or certainly infected, be sure to:
- Wear a mask
- Only interact with them for essential purposes
- Wash your hands regularly
- Clean surfaces in your home with regularity
- Take any other precautions that could help you avoid infection, without compromising your loved one’s health further
- If you feel necessary, get tested for the coronavirus, as you are at heightened risk of infection if you routinely interact with somebody who is known to have COVID-19
Once you account for these health-related concerns, you may want to consider the actions (or failures to act) of the cruise line where you or your loved one were likely to have been infected. Depending on the circumstances of your infection and the nature of your or your loved one’s illness, you could be entitled to compensation based on any negligence that caused or contributed to coronavirus infection.
If you want to learn more about possible grounds for a lawsuit against a cruise line from a coronavirus cruise ship lawyer, call our team at Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers today at (855) 529-0269 for a free consultation.
Will Cruise Ships Compensate Passengers for Catching Coronavirus?
Legal action levied against cruise ships accused of negligence causing coronavirus infections is still in its early stages. It remains to be seen whether cruise ship passengers infected by the coronavirus (or put at risk of infection) by the actions of a cruise ship’s management will collect compensation—and if so, what types and number of awards to which they may be entitled.
No lawsuit brings a guarantee of compensation. Our legal system requires fair legal proceedings to determine whether negligence has occurred and whether you should be compensated as the result of such negligence. With this in mind, you may have grounds to initiate such legal proceedings if you:
- Were a passenger on one of the cruise ships to have experienced some level of infection (The Diamond Princess is one of the earliest and most extensive examples of how coronavirus infection—and lack of precaution that may qualify as negligence by cruise lines—can mushroom in a contained environment)
- Were a crew member on a ship affected by the coronavirus
- Lost a loved one who was likely or certain to have been infected while on a cruise ship
Though maritime law differs from mainland law in several notable ways, cruise ships may be liable for bodily harm that arises because of coronavirus infection. Some lawsuits allege that cruise ships may have violated their duty of care to passengers if they failed to provide “reasonable care under the circumstances” to passengers, per maritime lawyer Michael Karcher in USA Today.
Some of the considerations that will likely arise in the course of lawsuits against various cruise lines are:
- Whether cruise lines should have anticipated the possibility of coronavirus outbreak on their ships (this will be especially relevant in cases where a passenger on a ship was infected on a ship that then docked and loaded a new fleet of passengers on the same ship)
- Whether cruise lines failed to protect passengers from infection because their response to possible infection was slow, not in sync with best health practices, or otherwise flawed
- Whether any acts by the cruise line put one or more passengers at a heightened risk of infection
USA Today states that cruise line tickets generally provide liability protections in the form of waivers and legal agreements that preclude passengers from certain types of legal action. With this said, coronavirus infections—and even mere risk of coronavirus infection—will potentially set a new precedent for how cruise ships are held liable for passenger safety.
Why is Chalik & Chalik the Right Law Firm to Handle My Coronavirus Lawsuit?
When deciding who should represent you in any coronavirus and cruise ship-related legal action that you bring, there are several factors to consider. Two of these factors include:
- Whether the law firm you are considering has practical knowledge of the field of illness-related law, and even more specifically illness-related litigation as it pertains to passengers and staffers on cruise ships.
- Whether you believe that the law firm you are considering will be truly invested in your case
If one or both of these considerations matter to you, then you should seriously consider Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers as your representatives in any coronavirus and cruise ship-related litigation that you plan to initiate.
Debi Chalik of Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers has first-hand experience with the unique dangers that coronavirus poses to passengers of cruise ships. USA Today reported that her parents were passengers on the Grand Princess, one of the first cruises reported to have been stricken with mass coronavirus infections.
This close connection to those who have been put at risk of coronavirus infection—especially in instances where cruise ship leadership blatantly failed to act to protect passengers—heightens the Chalik & Chalik team’s investment in your pursuit of justice.
According to the Guardian, the team at Chalik & Chalik is already representing multiple parties who were impacted by the failures of the Grand Princess leadership. USA Today states that the core basis of such lawsuits includes allegations that:
- Leadership of the Grand Princess and other cruises impacted by coronavirus may have failed to protect passengers from infection, in part because they continued to accept passengers on the ship despite a man previously dying of coronavirus
- By failing to use reasonable foresight or respond appropriately to the threat of a coronavirus outbreak, passengers were put at immediate risk of danger, violating clauses that may exist in your cruise ticket
This impetus for legal action may apply to many or most cruise lines where coronavirus infection has occurred, and the team at Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers are already filing cases based on allegations of negligence by cruise lines. Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers could be the right choice for your legal representation because we:
- Have personal ties to loved ones impacted by coronavirus outbreaks on cruise ships
- Have already begun the process of crafting and initiating lawsuits on behalf of cruise line passengers impacted by coronavirus infection
- Will provide you honest, personal representation if you or a loved one was affected by a coronavirus outbreak on a cruise ship
Call Our Team at Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers Today
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the nation (and our state) in ways that may be more lasting than we can imagine. Those who were onboard a cruise ship where a coronavirus outbreak occurred may be among a group who have experienced unique hardship, and you or a loved one may have been exposed to:
- A high risk of infection
- Potential death, especially if you are in one of the most at-risk categories for coronavirus-related health complications
- Emotional trauma from indefinite quarantining on a ship that was not allowed to dock, or a ship that you were not otherwise permitted to leave
- Financial losses due to additional time on a cruise ship or health effects caused by exposure to the coronavirus while you were on a cruise ship
The laws governing cruise ships can be tricky, especially considering that ownership for many cruise ships is registered in foreign nations. For representation by a team that is already involved in a cruise ship and coronavirus-related litigation, call Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers today at (855) 529-0269 for a free consultation from a coronavirus cruise ship lawyer.