Coronavirus cases in the United States seem to be growing exponentially from coast to coast. There’s no question that some of the victims acquired the virus while aboard cruise ships or as residents of nursing homes.
Can a person who became infected with the virus sue for damages?
Indeed, he or she can, but the costs of bringing such an action might be prohibitive unless it involved a lengthy hospitalization, permanent physical damage or wrongful death.
An elderly husband and wife who were stranded on the Grand Princess cruise ship without having become ill have sued Princess Cruise Lines anyway. They’re alleging that Princess Cruise Lines was guilty of gross negligence.
The plaintiffs’ complaint states that Princess Cruise Lines was grossly negligent in allowing them to board the cruise ship in late February when the Princess Cruise Lines had knowledge of the fact that two other passengers who had come down with the coronavirus had just left the ship when their cruise had concluded. One of those passengers later died. A minimum of 62 other passengers who had become infected remained on the same ship as the two who had just disembarked. That was the same cruise that the plaintiffs went on. The plaintiffs are also alleging that no testing was performed on them or the passengers that boarded the ship with them, nor were appropriate medical histories taken from them.
The Plaintiffs’ Damages are Continuing:
The Grand Princess is now docked in Oakland, and its passengers are being removed from the ship under heavy military security. They will be examined and transported to four quarantine sites that are scattered across the country at various military bases. The minimum quarantine time is 14 days. Other arrangements have been made for crew members and another 21 people aboard the ship who are infected. The plaintiffs allege that they never would have boarded the Grand Princess had they been warned of the possibility of coronavirus infection. They now allege that they’re traumatized by the possibility of developing the infection, especially in light of the fact they’re elderly and each have underlying medical conditions. They’re seeking more than $1 million in damages.
There’s an inference in the case that because it’s difficult for the plaintiffs from the Grand Princess to prove financial damages before being released to go home, they’ve alleged gross negligence. Tort laws in most jurisdictions permit a plaintiff to seek punitive damages in cases involving gross negligence. Depending on what state that the lawsuit was brought in, there might be caps on any punitive awards.
As a result of the worries about the coronavirus spreading in nursing homes like it did in the Seattle area, government inspections of the facilities have increased. Both prevention and response plans are required by law. Residents, staff members and visitors should be warned if a nursing home resident becomes ill from the coronavirus.
It’s likely that a nursing home and the people in charge of it will be determined to be liable for damages if they knew or should have known that another person was being exposed to the dangerous condition, and that other person developed the condition and suffered legally recognized damages.
If you came down with the coronavirus after being on the Grand Princess or upon being a resident of a nursing home, consult with a quality injury lawyer.