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Cruises after COVID-19. Should passengers be able to get compensated?

There is no debate the events surrounding COVID-19 are unlike any that this country, and the globe for that matter, has experienced.  The impacts of this disease on our communities will include a once unthinkable number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Although efforts have been made to trace the source of the disease in local areas in order to notify others that may have come in contact with or been exposed to someone with the disease, many of these efforts that not been entirely successful, hence the widespread contagiousness of the disease.

One source that has been known early on in the COVID-19 outbreak are the cruise ships that had passengers with confirmed cases on board.  Recent numbers have indicated that as many as 700 people became infected with COVID-19 on cruise ships.  A number of these passengers went on to die from the illness.  As news of the outbreaks and quarantined passengers broke, some of the cruise lines, including Princess Cruises, took preemptive measures and cancelled any future cruises.

In addition to getting ill and contracting the disease on the cruise ship, passengers also suffered from the psychological trauma of being quarantined or detained in different locations for an unknown amount of time.  Many of these passengers were away from their homes and routines for a month after their cruise was to come to an end.  They suffered other financial losses including cost of their medical treatment, as well as lost wages from having missed an unplanned time from work.

Many people assume that these passengers could and should get compensation from the cruise lines for their trauma, injury and medical costs, especially if these injuries were cause by negligence by the cruise line for failure to take proper and necessary actions to protect its passengers from harm.  Unfortunately, however, getting compensated in this situation is not as easy as one would think.  In fact, the law as it pertains to cruise ship injuries makes it quite difficult for passengers to recover for their injuries.

One reason why it is difficult to recover from cruise lines is because many courts view a passenger’s injury claim as a contract matter that is governed by the terms and conditions on the cruise ticket.  These tickets include volumes of fine print that control how, when and where a passenger can file a lawsuit against a cruise line.

Another reason why it is difficult to recover from cruise lines is because most of them are foreign companies which means that they are not necessarily subject to the U.S. laws that would be applicable to the cases.  In fact, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, passengers who tried to sue a cruise ship for injuries ranging from slip and fall accidents to other communicable disease faced an uphill battle to win their case.

This does not mean that passengers are without any recourse against cruise ships.  There have been recent cases brought by passengers in federal courts to recover damages, and there could be potentially many more in the near future.  As difficult as the COVID-19 outbreak has been on all of us, perhaps this is the impetus needed to pave the way for changes in laws to protect passengers’ health and safety while cruising.

If you or your loved one has suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, talk to an Atlanta personal injury attorney at the Katz Personal Injury Lawyers and discuss your claim.

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