Cruise lines were one of the first coronavirus hotspots. In March 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that Carnival Corporations’ Diamond Princess and Grand Princess had a total of more than 800 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths. A month later, at least nine of Carnival’s ships were infected with COVID-19, with more than 1,500 confirmed infections and at least 39 deaths.
Other cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean and its subsidiary Celebrity, Costa Cruises (owned by Carnival), and Norwegian Cruise Line, have also reported COVID-19 cases among passengers and staff. Amid concerns of outbreaks on cruise ships, the CDC issued a no-sail order in March 2020 affecting cruise ship operations in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction. Under the order, cruise lines must develop comprehensive plans to prevent, detect, respond to, and contain COVID-19 on their ships.
Before the CDC issued the no-sail order, cruise lines allowed thousands of passengers to board ships without warning them about the virus symptoms and outbreaks on previous voyages that they knew about. Many passengers and staff were subject to unsafe conditions aboard the ships without receiving personal protective equipment. The close proximity of people, coupled with the cruise lines’ failure to warn or provide protection, led to unnecessary exposure, illness, and death.
Cruise lines are already seeking protection from COVID-19 related lawsuits. Some are expected to cite a century-old law called Death on the High Seas, which applies to deaths that happen aboard vessels that are more than three miles offshore. They may also point to the agreements that passengers signed before embarking, which limit the ways they may take legal action.
For those who contracted COVID-19 aboard a cruise ship, the best thing to do is to speak with an attorney with experience in maritime litigation as soon as possible. Hiring legal counsel can protect victims from the tactics that large companies and their insurers often use to reduce the money they must pay to resolve legal claims.
If you or a family member was aboard a cruise ship that suffered a COVID-19 outbreak, we can help. We encourage you to contact CaseyGerry at (619) 238-1811 to discuss your situation and your legal rights. There is no obligation when you call.