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Cruise passengers can sue over infectious outbreak

No one buys tickets for a cruise hoping to spend several days incapacitated with diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. But infectious diseases don't care that you're on vacation. Furthermore, an enclosed space filled with lots of people is a perfect breeding ground for contagious disease. If you're stuck on a ship during an outbreak, what can be your personal nightmare is a dream come true for infectious organisms with ambition.

But if you fall victim to an outbreak on a cruise, how much of that outbreak is the fault of the cruise line? And if you were to sue, would you get anywhere? The answer depends in part on how many people were sickened on the cruise, and whether it's possible to prove that the cruise exhibited negligence that can be linked directly to the illness. 

If you get a cold or the flu while on a cruise, for example, it's not likely that a lawsuit against the cruise line would get you anywhere. That's because you can get a cold or flu anywhere, and it would be very difficult to prove that you got it on the cruise. If you're the only one who fell ill, similarly, a lawsuit would probably fall flat.

For other infectious diseases, however, like norovirus, food poisoning, or Legionnaire's disease, you may have a case. That's because these diseases have specific modes of transmission that could be linked to negligence on behalf of the cruise line. If food preparers fail to wash their hands properly, for example, this could cause a food poisoning outbreak. Or if cruise ship staff fail to take measures to contain a burgeoning outbreak -- like quarantining sick passengers or cleaning common spaces more frequently -- this might also constitute negligence. 

If your stay on a cruise ship makes you ill, you may be eligible to receive compensation. But it's important to act quickly. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the particular challenges of a lawsuit against a cruise line. For example, you likely have no more than a year to file a lawsuit, and you will likely also have less time than that to notify the cruise line of your intent to sue. 

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