Legionnaires’ disease is a rare type of lung infection caused by a bacteria called Legionella. While Legionella is found naturally in fresh waters, it can quickly grow and multiply indoors, infecting many people. This is what happened in a recent Legionnaires’ disease lawsuit against the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. Many other cases have preceded it, as well.
If you developed Legionnaires’ disease after being exposed to Legionella bacteria from a building’s water system, you may be entitled to compensation. Below are answers from an experienced personal injury lawyer about what you can expect from this type of lawsuit.
Who Is Liable in a Legionnaires’ Disease Lawsuit?
In most Legionnaires’ disease lawsuits, the business where the outbreak occurs may be liable. Every Georgia business must ensure their premises is safe for customers and visitors, according to Georgia Code 51-3-1. That includes preventing dangerous bacterial growth. If they do not uphold this duty, they may be negligent in an outbreak.
Legionella bacteria develops in indoor water systems that have not been properly cleaned or maintained. The bacteria can spread into water vapor (which is tiny droplets) that people then breathe in. Breathing the bacteria can then infect someone with Legionnaires’ disease—at no fault of their own.
Simply contracting Legionnaires’ disease does not mean someone is always liable. However, if the disease was contracted from a water source that was not cleaned and maintained, the company may be responsible. Regular testing, disinfecting, and cleaning must happen to prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria.
Negligence in the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel Lawsuit
In the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel case, a man filed a lawsuit on August 12, 2019, against the hotel for negligence. Here are the facts:
- The man developed Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the hotel from June 27 to July 1.
- The lawsuit alleged negligence in the operation and maintenance of the hotel’s water systems.
- AJC and other news outlets have since confirmed authorities found Legionella bacteria in the hotel’s cooling systems and an atrium fountain.
- At least a dozen other people have been confirmed to have the disease, including one woman who died from complications of the bacteria. There are at least 66 probable cases, too.
This is a perfect example of how carelessness can endanger the well-being and lives of others. If you were also affected by the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at Sheraton Atlanta or in any other situation, speak with a lawyer as soon as you can.
What Damages Can I Claim in a Legionnaires’ Disease Lawsuit?
If you become sick with Legionnaires’ disease after staying somewhere that contained Legionella bacteria, you may be able to seek damages. When a hotel or other establishment causes your sickness, you have the legal right to file a claim or lawsuit against them.
Damages you may be able to claim in a Legionnaires’ disease lawsuit include:
- Medical costs, including urine testing, MRIs, x-rays, or other tests, prescription medications, hospital stays, doctor visits, and long-term care
- Lost wages from missed work time
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering damages
- Disabilities from permanent complications
- And more
About one in ten people who contract Legionnaires’ disease die. If a family member was killed by Legionnaires’ disease, you may have a wrongful death case. Wrongful death damages can include those listed above as well as funeral and burial costs and pain and suffering the deceased endured from the disease.
Speak to a personal injury lawyer who understands Legionnaires’ disease as soon as you notice symptoms of the disease in yourself or a loved one. They can help you investigate the situation and begin building a strong case.
What Should I Do if I Have (or Might Have) Legionnaires’ Disease?
To have a case, you will need to prove that:
- You have Legionnaires’ disease.
- You contracted the disease from Legionella bacteria at the location you are suing.
- The company did not properly maintain the water source from which the disease developed.
- The damages you are claiming resulted from your disease caused by the company.
There are many ways you and your lawyer will work to gather this evidence.
See a Doctor
If you are displaying signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, see a doctor right away. The disease can be fatal if left untreated. Your doctor will perform one or more tests to determine whether you have the disease.
Your well-being is most important, so make sure you get the treatment needed as soon as possible. Your doctor will probably notify the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of your diagnosis. You can also contact the CDC yourself to report it.
Contact a Lawyer Who Understands Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionella outbreaks typically happen in large buildings, which means you are likely filing suit against a large company. You will need a lawyer with the resources and experience to take on this type of case.
You won’t be able to obtain much of the evidence needed in a Legionnaires’ disease on your own. A good lawyer may help you get:
- Reports from local health departments and agencies who investigate an outbreak.
- Witness testimonies and expert interviews.
- Corporate or company documents that can only be requested through court orders or subpoenas.
- Pertinent information about the outbreak through investigation.
- All necessary medical reports.
Keep Track of Your Damages
The number one priority for every Legionnaires’ disease victim is recovery. Make sure you are, first and foremost, focusing on treatment and being with your family. Once you have a lawyer on your side, they can handle the biggest details.
That being said, you can help by keeping track of medical bills and other costs from your illness. If you are able, any pictures of your symptoms may also help.
What Should I Expect in the Lawsuit Process?
Once it is confirmed that you have Legionnaires’ disease, the next steps include investigation and case building.
A lawyer will compile and review information pertinent information before a lawsuit is filed. If there was an outbreak that sickened or killed other people, they will follow any developments while conducting their own investigation.
The goal of a Legionnaires’ disease case to get you a fair settlement that accounts for all of your damages. Most of the time, personal injury cases are resolved well before you need to go to trial. However, if a trial is necessary in your case, your lawyer will be there every step of the way.
Talk to a Lawyer About Your Legionnaires’ Disease Case for FREE
If you or a loved one were affected by Legionnaires’ disease, call John Foy & Associates today. The sooner you can get the legal process started, the better. Our attorneys have been helping injury victims like you seek a fair settlement for more than 20 years. We work on a contingency basis—you pay nothing out of pocket. No fees unless we win you money.
To schedule your FREE consultation today and talk about your case, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online now.