Legionnaires’ disease is a deadly form of pneumonia. It is not contagious. It spreads through inhalation of contaminated airborne water particles dispersed in or around cooling towers, ventilation systems, hot tubs, and fountains. The illness is severe and usually requires hospitalization, often in the intensive care unit. Legionnaire’s disease symptoms frequently results in death or leaves the victim in a debilitated state for a lengthy period of time or even for life. Each year, nearly 100 cases are diagnosed in Maryland alone. Thousands of cases are reported nationally, but the disease in not highly publicized. Often, when Legionnaire’s disease lawsuits are filed, they are settled quickly and under certain terms so that the general public is not usually aware.
Multiple settings and scenarios are common to a Legionnaires disease outbreak. In many cases, there is a responsible party for the outbreak of the disease, and therefore, the persons affected might have cause and evidence to file a lawsuit.
Following are a few examples of documented scenarios:
- Guests at a hotel sit in or near a hot tub. The hot tub is spraying contaminated water from bacteria laden pipes. Multiple guests inhale the contaminated vapors from that spray, and they become ill with Legionnaires’ disease. Through investigation, the bacteria in the hotel pipes match the bacteria of the sick guests.
- Residents, visitors and staff of a senior citizens’ home all become infected with Legionella bacteria, resulting in multiple cases of Legionnaires’ disease. The cause of the outbreak is traced to the contaminated water in the cooling tower on the roof, which permitted droplets of water containing the bacteria to spread through the home by means of the ventilation system. There is a clear connection between the source and those who were stricken with Legionnaires’ disease.
- Multiple passengers on the same cruise ship become ill with Legionnaires’ disease. The lab-tested water from the hot tub was determined to contain Legionella bacteria. People are hospitalized, and not everyone survives.
You might go on vacation and become deathly ill because of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at your hotel, casino or cruise ship. You might be in the hospital for one reason and contract Legionnaires’ disease while being a patient. You might live next door to a facility with a rooftop cooling tank spraying Legionella bacteria into the vicinity, and you become ill. These and other possibilities could happen to anyone. When it does happen, an experienced Legionnaires disease attorney can help you determine your legal options.
Because Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks often involve multiple cases of the illness having a connection with one source of the bacteria, lawsuits can bring about the evidence that will link the source of the disease with the victims. In some lawsuits, multiple parties are named. Class action lawsuits are often filed for cases involving Legionnaires’ disease. The outcome of Legionnaires disease lawsuits can vary. The case might be argued in court until a verdict is reached. The defendant might choose to settle out of court. Sometimes, the case cannot be proven, and no award is made. However, a settlement can potentially amount to millions of dollars.