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Can You Sue a Cruise Ship Company for a Death Related to Coronavirus?

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The coronavirus has claimed almost 200,000 lives worldwide as of the writing of this article.  The families of victims may have been unable to see their loved ones at the end, and patients in the ICU and undergoing treatment with ventilators might have faced immense discomfort.  If your loved one got coronavirus after going on a cruise, you might be entitled to sue the cruise ship and the cruise company for your loved one’s COVID-19 death.

Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind’s attorneys for a cruise ship coronavirus death lawsuit might be able to take your case to court and fight to get justice for your loved one’s death.  Some cruise ships have been accused of serious negligence or misinformation to passengers, and the courts might be willing to hold them accountable for cruise ship COVID-19 deaths.  Call us today at (866) 386-1762 to set up a free legal consultation and to learn more about how to file a lawsuit for your loved one’s death.

Suing a Cruise Ship for COVID-19 Deaths

In order to sue a cruise ship for a death caused by injuries or illness acquired abord the ship, you must be able to prove that the cruise ship or its crew did something wrong that led to the death.  This kind of dangerous action or inaction is usually referred to as “negligence.”

To prove negligence, you must show that the cruise ship operators owed your loved one some duty that they violated.  Depending on when your loved one contracted COVID-19 and what circumstances allowed that to happen, the cruise might be responsible.

Failing to Cancel Cruises

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, people often did not know that the risks were as great as they were, and cruise lines might have been reasonable in deciding to continue operating ships.  However, there came a point where the dangers of person-to-person spread were too great, and any cruise ship would have been seriously putting its passengers at risk by continuing to operate cruises.  In fact, evidence suggests that some cruises might have given standing orders to their crew to misinform passengers by telling them that the coronavirus was not that dangerous or that the areas they would be sailing to were not susceptible to spreading the virus.  In some cases, the only responsible move would be to cancel cruises, and failing to do so could put passengers at unnecessary risk.

Failing to Institute Quarantine

Cruise ship operators also have a duty to keep passengers reasonably safe once on board.  If your loved one was made ill because the cruise refused to institute quarantines, that failure to properly separate and quarantine passengers could be negligent.  In addition, air filtration systems on cruise ships often recycle air, potentially spreading the virus around the ship at a faster rate.  Failing to properly filter air, clean common areas, and keep passengers safe after having knowledge of an outbreak could constitute negligence.

Failing to Evacuate Sick COVID-19 Patients

Lastly, the cruise ship should be held liable for failing to get affected passengers the prompt treatment they need.  If a passenger needed emergency medical care, the cruise ship might have had a duty to evacuate them.  In some cases, passengers were reportedly left on the cruise ship while it was already at port.  If a patient desperately needs to be taken to the ICU or placed on a ventilator, failing to get them the medical care they need could constitute negligence.  It could also constitute medical malpractice on the part of the ship’s medical crew.

Damages for Deaths from Coronavirus on a Cruise Ship

If your loved one did pass away due to coronavirus complications after contracting the virus on a cruise, your family might be entitled to compensation.  The laws about what damages you can claim differ from state to state, so if your loved one died while the ship was in the waters of any particular state, that state’s rules will govern your case.  Otherwise, the case will be handled under U.S. maritime law, which also has its own unique rules.  In any case though, damages are typically available for your loved one’s medical care and end of life pain and suffering as well as the damages and expenses your family faced because of the death.  Additional damages might be available for serious negligence.

Damages for your loved one’s medical care can be expensive.  If medical evacuation was necessary, the cost of the helicopter or boat ride could be expensive.  ICU care on a ventilator can also be expensive.  During your loved one’s last days, the effects of COVID-19 could make breathing difficult or painful, and other effects of the virus could also cause your loved one to suffer.  The cruise ship that allowed these things to happen should be responsible for paying for the full value of these damages.

You and your family might have faced damages from the death as well.  The cost of funeral and burial services are one of the most prominent costs.  These costs could be increased if you needed to have your loved one transported to another state or if funeral homes and crematoriums were under extra stress from coronavirus deaths.

Your family will also face ongoing harm.  The value of a deceased loved one’s lost wages, household services, spousal services, companionship, and counsel can often be claimed as damages in a lawsuit.
If the cruise ship was especially negligent, committed intentional acts of fraud or deception, or if there was evidence of a pattern of serious negligence, the court could order punitive damages.  This might allow you to receive additional compensation.

Suing Cruise Lines for Coronavirus Deaths While Docked in Miami

If your loved one had coronavirus and needed immediate medical treatment, there is no reason they should have been kept on a cruise ship that was already docked. There are rumors that ambulances were on lockdown or that the authorities were ordering people to stay locked up on cruise ships instead of being admitted to hospitals when they needed treatment the most. In some cases, allegations state that the cruise ship’s doctor was in charge of these decisions and that it was within the cruise line’s authority to release passengers. If your loved one passed away because they were not given the treatment they needed, you might be entitled to sue the cruise line for their death and their end of life suffering.

Prompt medical treatment can be the difference between life and death for many patients. Patients who need to be put on a ventilator must be taken to a hospital immediately to have a chance of improvement. Any decision to delay emergency medical treatment at a fully equipped ICU could be a death sentence. The conditions on a cruise ship are not usually designed to provide life-sustaining medical care to very sick patients. As such, manual ventilation with a bag valve mask might be the best that the ship can offer, and this might not be good enough for a patient in need.

Lawsuits against these cruise lines could help victims and their families seek justice for what happened.

Holding Cruise Lines Responsible for Coronavirus Deaths while Docked in Miami

Mishandling the evacuation of a cruise ship with sick passengers often comes down to a few bad decisions that can lead to death or serious injury. When confronted with issues of how to evacuate a ship at dock, authorities on the ship must be prepared to communicate with authorities on shore, get ambulances and medical transportation for sick passengers, and get the sickest passengers to the hospital first.

If the onboard doctors and authorities knew that a patient was sick, had comorbidities or complications, or was already being manually “bagged” to help them breathe, they should have known that that patient would need emergency evacuation. If they failed to provide the evacuation in a timely manner, this could constitute not only medical malpractice but also ordinary negligence on the part of the ship operators and the cruise line.

It appears from evidence in news reports that Miami-Dade area hospitals were properly equipped and able to receive coronavirus and COVID-19 patients at their ICUs at the time that the Coral Princess was at dock. This means that communication issues and negligent planning cannot be pinned on the fact that there were not enough hospital beds available. Additionally, private ambulance services were being used at one point during the day this ship docked, so claims that ambulances were unavailable would be equally misplaced as a defense to these issues. Similar vessels docked in Miami may have had similar issues during evacuation, and any delays in necessary medical care could be blamed on the cruise ship if their negligence can be proved in court.

Proving Claims Against Cruise Ships at Dock in Miami for COVID-19 Deaths

Our attorneys can work with you and subpoena testimony from cruise ship employees and administrators to get information about why your loved one was not evacuated and what happened that allowed them to suffer increased complications.

One factor that might complicate these kinds of cases is the issue of causation. In any lawsuit for negligence, you must prove that the at-fault party’s negligence actually caused your loved one’s death. In the case of coronavirus, it is obvious that the cause of death in most of these cases was complications from COVID-19. However, if the cruise line failed to get someone the help they needed or failed to treat those patients as a priority for evacuation, that negligence will have made the patient’s condition worse. This could potentially have led to additional suffering before an unavoidable death or it could have taken a condition from merely dangerous to deadly.

In some cases, the cruise ship will make bold claims in their defense, such as the claim that the patient would have died of COVID-19 anyway. These claims are often cold legal tools used to shirk responsibility for negligent care, screening, and operation during times of crisis. However, any increase in the severity of symptoms, increased suffering, or delay in care could be held against the cruise ship. Even if the patient would have died anyway, they would have suffered less and faced less difficulty breathing if they had proper treatment at a hospital.

The cruise ship should be held responsible for whatever harm they caused in these kinds of cases, including increased end-of-life pain and suffering, lost chance at recovery, and wrongful death.

Lawyer for Coronavirus and COVID-19 Wrongful Death Lawsuits on Cruise Ships

Talk to a cruise ship injury lawyer attorney about how to file a claim for a loved one’s COVID-19 death after they contracted the virus on a cruise ship.  Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind’s attorneys for a cruise ship coronavirus death lawsuit represent families of those whose loved ones passed away from coronavirus complications, and we fight to get your family the compensation you deserve.  Call us today at (866) 386-1762 to set up a free legal consultation and learn more about what your wrongful death lawsuit might be worth.

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