Can You Sue if You Were Quarantined on a Cruise Ship?

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“Quarantine” can be a terrifying word. Most people think of plagues and deadly illness when they hear the word “quarantine,” and they are afraid that to be quarantined means that you are in danger. In reality, quarantine is usually a good tool to help prevent the spread of illness. However, if you were quarantined on a cruise ship – whether because of norovirus, coronavirus (COVID-19), or some other illness – you could face challenges and risks that might entitle you to sue the cruise ship where you were quarantined. Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind’s cruise ship injury and illness lawyers explain.

Being Quarantined on a Cruise Ship for Coronavirus or Norovirus

The term “quarantine” comes from old practices in Italy where ships suspected of carrying the plague would be kept off the coast for 40 days (“quaranta” is “forty” in Italian). Today, to quarantine someone means to keep them away from others after they are suspected of having caught a spreadable illness. This helps check whether they will develop symptoms and prevent them from spreading it if they do develop symptoms. If the patient is already known to have the illness, they are technically kept in “isolation” rather than quarantine, but these terms are popularly used interchangeably.

Quarantine usually lasts only as long as it needs to to make sure that the patient doesn’t have signs of illness. For coronavirus, this usually means 14 days in quarantine to make sure symptoms don’t develop. However, if sickness does break out on a ship, everyone will likely be confined to quarters and asked not to interact with others. This is done simply to make sure that no healthy people catch the illness. This also ensures that anyone who is already ill will not spread the illness further.

Quarantines on cruise ships are actually surprisingly common. Norovirus and other illnesses spread occasionally. As such, there are big cases nearly every year where dozens or hundreds of cruise ship passengers fall ill and are put into quarantine after an outbreak. With COVID-19 – the coronavirus – spreading in early 2020, many more people faced quarantine on ships.

Because quarantine is so common, it is not something that you can typically sue for. However, if you are mistreated during your quarantine or you only acquired your illness because of negligence in how the cruise was operated, that can be an entirely different case. Additionally, if a loved one was killed on a cruise ship because of illness, you might be entitled to sue.

Suing for Negligence During Quarantine on a Cruise Ship

Cruise ships usually place people in quarantine after a virus or other illness breaks out on the ship. However, there are other steps that cruises can take to avoid spreading illness before resorting to quarantines. If they fail to take these steps first, then quarantining everyone or allowing them to get sick might be considered negligence on the part of the cruise line. This could justify a lawsuit – and lawsuits like this have been filed before for both norovirus and coronavirus cases.

Cruise lines must keep their ships clean and help prevent the spread of illness if they know someone is sick on board. In many cases, it might be responsible to quarantine someone at the first sign of illness. If they fail to do so, the cruise ship might be responsible for exposing crew and passengers to the illness.

Along with failing to clean their ship and quickly separating sick passengers, the cruise ship should also screen their crew. Especially in the midst of an outbreak like the coronavirus pandemic, it might be negligent for cruise ships to allow crew onto the ship without first screening them for symptoms of COVID-19. Additionally, running the cruise might be considered negligent in and of itself if it would have been better for everyone to cancel the cruise and prevent illness that way.

In many cases, the cruise line makes these decisions, so they would be held liable for company-wide decisions. In 2020, lawsuits against Princess cruises have already been filed for these kinds of claims. Alternatively, the decision could be made by the captain, leading to injuries caused by captain error.

Suing for Mistreatment and Neglect During Cruise Ship Quarantine

Sometimes, the cruise line has no control over whether the ship or passengers get quarantined. Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, many cruise ships were quarantined by government orders. That means that the cruise line has no choice but to comply. This kind of quarantine could potentially mean ordering all passengers to quarters and preventing any gatherings on board. While this might mean your cruise was the worst vacation of your life, it should never become a health or safety risk.

Cruise lines are still responsible for the passengers aboard their vessels, even during a quarantine. This means they must still get passengers food, water, and medical care as needed. Allowing their passengers to stay in quarantine in unsanitary, unsafe, or inhumane conditions could potentially lead to a lawsuit, as could negligent medical care on a cruise ship. Quarantine is not usually comfortable, but it should never become dangerous.

Damages for Being Quarantined on a Cruise Ship

As mentioned, sometimes quarantine is necessary to help keep others safe. This means that you are likely not entitled to damages if quarantine was necessary after the random spread of illness. However, you might be entitled to damages if the cruise ship was negligent in allowing the illness to spread or because the cruise line allowed you to be injured during quarantine.

The damages that you can claim in your case would include any financial harm or injury you faced because of the ship’s negligence. This could include medical expenses to treat your illness, lost wages from time off work, and the pain and suffering and other mental effects of unnecessary isolation and illness. Talk to a lawyer about what your case might be worth.

Call Our Cruise Ship Injury and Illness Lawyer for a Free Case Consultation

If you or a loved one was placed in quarantine on a cruise ship after the ship committed negligent errors that allowed you to become sick, call our lawyers immediately. You might be entitled to sue the cruise line if you were quarantined for norovirus, coronavirus, or another illness. For your free case consultation, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. today at (305) 204-5369.

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