When someone takes a vacation on a cruise ship, this is the last time they would expect to have a problem. However, these vessels have had numerous problems in recent years, which often result in lawsuits. One incident that received much media attention was a viral outbreak on a ship that sailed from South Florida.


The cruise line Royal Caribbean had a severe outbreak of norovirus on its large ship The Independence of the Seas. While a few hundred cases were officially reported over the course of the five day cruise, many passengers believe that hundreds more who were ill simply gave up on waiting in long lines for treatment or remained in their cabins. The cruise line claims that about 6% of the approximately 5000 passengers on board contracted the illness. Victims were treated by Royal Caribbean’s medical staff with over the counter medications.


The cruise ship returned to Port Everglades in Florida, which is just north of Miami near Fort Lauderdale.


What is norovirus?


Norovirus is a short lived gastrointestinal illness that causes acute vomiting and diarrhea over the course of several hours, or up to a day in some cases. While the illness is fairly common and usually does not have serious consequences, those who are elderly, very young, or in poor health can experience severe dehydration and other problems. Medical professionals recommend that regular hand washing is usually a sufficient defense against catching norovirus.


This virus is also very contagious and the close quarters of a cruise ship can obviously exacerbate this problem. This is because thousands of people will potentially eat or use the restroom in the same enclosed area within a short period of time. A Royal Caribbean spokesperson said that after the vessel returned, workers for the cruise line had to sanitize the entire ship and take other additional cleaning measures to avoid future issues. These cleaning measures are especially important, as tainted water or food is a common way that norovirus spreads.


What are the legal remedies for the passengers?


When passengers on a cruise get sick, a lawyer needs to prove that the company operating the ship was somehow either at fault and caused the outbreak, or failed to take some kind of necessary precautions that led to the problem. While one person getting something as common as norovirus may have a difficult time proving that the cruise line was negligent, cases such as the one above that result in large outbreaks would tend to suggest that proper procedures may not have been followed for things like cleanliness or food preparation. This can possibly be traced to an employee such as a kitchen staff member or janitor on the ship. A subsequent investigation into the incident as well as the services of an aggressive lawyer can be helpful for injured passengers to receive some kind of compensation related to the losses they incurred.



Keep in mind that when these kinds of accidents happen, many issues will be governed by the rules of maritime law, rather than regular civil law, because the incident occurred on the seas. This is why it is especially important to have help from an attorney with experience in maritime law rather than contacting a generalist.


Get help after an accident on a cruise


To get help from an attorney who handles cruise ship accidents and knows the specifics of maritime law, contact Madalon Law. Their attorneys routinely deal with lawsuits against cruise lines in the Miami area.