The Zika Virus (“Zika”) has been making headlines for several months now. Though at one time, the virus did not appear to be a major threat, it has now spread to many destinations throughout the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and in various states in the United States. Many have canceled their travel plans to avoid coming in contact with the disease, which is carried by Aedes mosquitoes. Pregnant women are especially at risk should they contract Zika since it has been linked to birth defects such as microcephaly. Aside from mosquito bites, it is also believed that Zika may be spread through sexual intercourse. Therefore, travelers including cruise ship passengers who are infected with Zika may spread it to others. In these instances, a cruise ship injury attorney in Florida may be able to help.
The mosquitoes that spread Zika thrive in warm, humid conditions. Many countries that have reported local transmission of Zika are popular cruise destinations—such as Jamaica, Mexico, and, most recently, the Bahamas and St. Kitts. In addition, Miami, which is a major departure port for many cruise lines, has reported cases of local transmission.
How can a cruise line be held responsible if a passenger contracts Zika? First, cruise lines have a duty to warn their passengers of any dangers that may be present in any ports. This includes the presence of any diseases that may be transmitted to passengers. Once cruise lines have knowledge that a disease, such as Zika, is present at any of its destinations, the cruise line should get in touch with passengers that have booked the cruise to provide information so that the passengers may decide if they wish to travel. Additionally, cruise lines should post this information on their websites so that potential guests may make an informed decision about their vacations.
If a cruise line did not provide adequate warnings about illnesses or diseases, and a passenger contracts the disease while visiting a port, the cruise line may be held liable for any damages that ensue. For example, consider a pregnant passenger who did not receive any warnings about Zika. She is bitten by a mosquito, contracts Zika, and her baby is born with birth defects. If it is proven that Zika caused the baby’s birth defects, the woman may be able to hold the cruise line accountable if there was a failure to warn about the potentially dangerous disease. Under federal maritime law a cruise line has a legal duty to act with reasonable care under the circumstances. This includes a duty to keep its passengers safe both onboard and off of the ship during their trips. What constitutes reasonable care depends on the circumstances involved. Keefe v. Bahama Cruise Lines 137 F.2d 1318 (11th Cir. 1989). If it fails to do so, injured passengers may be able to recover damages from the cruise line.
If you contracted Zika while on a cruise, contact an attorney today
If you contracted Zika on a cruise because you were unaware of the risks involved with travel, you need to speak with a skilled Miami personal injury attorney. At Gerson and Schwarz, we offer a free consultation so that we may discuss your legal options. To schedule your consultation, call 877-475-2905 or visit our website at injuryattorneyfla.com.