The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the lives of people all over the world and has caused intense emotional distress to many since the beginning of 2020. But for people who were on cruise vacations at the beginning of the crisis, the situation was a living nightmare.
Outbreaks on a Princess cruise in early 2020 made headlines when about 20% of passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess ship caught the virus. The Princess cruise line wasn’t the only source of outbreaks, though—Carnival cruise line and others also had infected passengers and even several deaths.
It’s almost impossible to avoid the spread of disease on a cruise ship. But the biggest question is: what do we need to know about cruise lines & COVID-19 negligence?
How Cruise Lines May Have Failed Passengers and Crew Members
A cruise line has a responsibility to keep its passengers and crews as safe as possible from contracting coronavirus while onboard a cruise ship. While cruise ship operators can’t entirely prevent the spread of coronavirus on a cruise ship with an infected passenger or crew member, cruise line administrators ultimately didn’t handle coronavirus outbreaks well during the early days of the pandemic.
One cruise ship, for example, was allowed to unload in Miami without COVID testing anyone, even after a passenger was known to have coronavirus. A passenger on another cruise ship died while waiting for coronavirus medical assistance while the ship was docked. These incidents could be classified as negligence during the coronavirus pandemic.
Since then, companies like Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line have started requiring coronavirus vaccinations for every passenger and crew member setting foot on a cruise ship. This is clashing with Florida law regarding unvaccinated passengers and causing disagreements between elected officials and cruise line operators. But now that the coronavirus is better understood and past mistakes have come to light, cruise ship voyages are under the spotlight for coronavirus control.
Which Cruise Lines are Being Sued for Coronavirus Negligence?
Ships are setting sail once again with new restrictions and cruise passengers are excited to enjoy their relaxing vacations after a year of quarantine. But some companies, such as the Princess cruise line (owned by Carnival), are battling class-action lawsuits for earlier COVID-19 negligence.
In February of 2020, the line’s Grand Princess ship became the source of an early U.S. hotspot while it was carrying around 3,000 passengers. The Princess cruise ship left San Francisco in February of 2020 without discharging 60 passengers who had been exposed to the virus.
The Grand Princess set sail with these passengers, but those joining the ship were not told that they may be at risk. Furthermore, very little screening was conducted by Princess cruise staff members, ultimately resulting in passengers developing COVID-19 symptoms and a COVID-19 outbreak that would infect around 800 people and kill at least 10. Class-action lawsuits claim gross negligence over the fact that the coronavirus outbreak onboard could have been prevented.
Although cruise passengers experienced loss and emotional distress aboard the Grand Princess, many of the lawsuits have struggled to provide relief. Certain outdated maritime laws have made it difficult for passengers to hold the Princess cruise line accountable for what occurred on the Grand Princess. As more of these lawsuits make their way through the courtroom, however, it may spur changes that protect passengers’ rights.
How a Cruise Line May be Legally Liable if You Contract COVID-19 While Onboard
Coronavirus outbreaks are still occurring, so cruise lines need to be careful of how they’re managing their cruise ships. Just one undetected coronavirus case among passengers and crew could cause the entire cruise ship to experience a COVID-19 outbreak.
If you have been on a cruise ship since the pandemic struck or you’re planning to get back on board, it’s important to hold the cruise line accountable for your safety. Some are implementing a vaccine requirement on their cruise ship vessels, while other companies are only encouraging it. Even that isn’t always enough, as vaccinated passengers could contract coronavirus onboard.
Passengers who come down with the coronavirus won’t always be able to blame the cruise line, though. If the cruise ship operators take proper COVID-19 pandemic precautions, they won’t be acting negligently. Typically, coronavirus lawsuits for cruise passengers are only considered if the cruise line deliberately exhibited negligence.
For example, if the cruise line does not screen passengers properly for the coronavirus or check compliance with any vaccine requirement before they board the cruise ship, that could be considered negligence. Or, if they know a passenger is showing symptoms but do not disclose this to boarding passengers on the cruise ship, they could be sued for causing physical and emotional harm to those who go on to contract the virus.
A cruise company has to be cautious when it comes to coronavirus if they want to prevent legal action from passengers on a cruise ship. People put a lot of trust in a cruise line to get them home safely. If they get sick or don’t make it home at all due to the negligence of the cruise line, that trust is broken and legal action is appropriate.
The bottom line is that a cruise line has to take the threat of coronavirus seriously and implement precautions for the health, safety, and well-being of their passengers and crew. People pay a lot of money to have a good time onboard a cruise ship. Contracting coronavirus not only derails a relaxing vacation, but it can also result in extensive suffering and even death.
Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help Infected Cruise Passengers and Crew Members
A cruise ship passenger or crew member can easily experience a cruise ship injury or illness. Whether there’s a coronavirus outbreak or a cruise ship accident, people can and do fall victim to cruise line negligence every year. That’s where a lawyer can step in to help.
If you have contracted COVID-19 while on a cruise due to negligence, it’s important to get experienced legal help as soon as possible. A lawyer with experience in cruise line accidents and cruise ship injury cases will be able to help you navigate the challenges of maritime law so you can recover the compensation you deserve.
At Hannon Legal Group in Miami, we understand the complexities and requirements of cruise line negligence cases. Our experience and track record of success will give you peace of mind that we can help you navigate the process of holding a cruise company accountable. Contact our office today at 305-358-3109 for a consultation.