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Do I have a norovirus claim?

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Jonathan Speight

Panel Senior Litigator

A guide to making a No Win No Fee norovirus claim

Highly infectious, particularly amongst large groups in confined spaces, norovirus is estimated to affect up to 1 million people in the UK each year. Also known as the ?winter vomiting disease', outbreaks are common in hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and, notably, on cruise ships.

Although usually mild, the tell-tale symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea can be extremely unpleasant. If a person becomes infected with norovirus, they could be entitled to claim compensation. To be successful they would need to prove that third party negligence occurred and that it was the cause.

How do people contract norovirus?

Norovirus is easily spread. It can be passed on by poor hand hygiene or by eating infected food. In addition, the virus can be caught by touching surfaces or objects - like towels or flannels - days after they were contaminated. All of these things make semi-enclosed spaces more susceptible.

Once contracted, norovirus can incubate for 12 to 48 hours before symptoms appear. As well as vomiting and diarrhoea, other recognised symptoms include:

  • A raised temperature over 38 degrees
  • Headaches
  • Aching limbs
  • Painful stomach cramps

Although the virus is unpleasant, it usually runs its course in a few days and is not normally dangerous. However there is a risk of dehydration, which can lead to further symptoms such as dizziness, decreased urine levels and low blood pressure.

Who is a claim made against?

As it is the most common stomach bug (gastroenteritis) in the UK, contracting norovirus in itself does not automatically lead to a claim. In order to pursue compensation, the virus must have been contracted in a situation where responsibility for health and safety lies with someone other than the individual.

In public spaces, such as cruise ships, hotels, hospitals or schools, the owners/managers have a legal ?duty of care' towards their clients, patients or pupils. So, if an individual, or group of individuals, fall sick, the owner/managers health and safety policies will be scrutinised to ensure they did everything reasonably practical to prevent an outbreak occurring.

How can liability in norovirus claims by proven?

As the causes of norovirus are commonly known, as well as the spaces likely to be infected, those in charge of such spaces are expected to be aware of the risks and are legally obligated to control them. For example, a hospital should have strict and documented cleaning and hand washing procedures in place to ensure the virus is not spread.

Cruise ship liability cases

When people think norovirus they often think cruise ships. This is due to the high incidence of cases occurring and being reported. If a person contracted norovirus whilst on board, it must be demonstrated not only that the cruise ship was negligent, but also that contracting the virus was a result of this.

Although most major cruise lines will have health and safety measures in place, it does not always mean that they have done enough, or that they were carried out effectively.

For example, they may have hand sanitisers in the restaurants, but they may not be adequately enforcing use of them. Alternatively, they may not be successfully quarantining staff or passengers who may have come into contact the virus but are, as yet, symptomless.

The fact that norovirus is not often an isolated case in such situations will help a solicitor demonstrate that negligence was indeed the cause. Another example of evidence could be witness statements that public announcements were not made when the outbreak first occurred.

Whether a claim is being made against a cruise line, or a hotel or another public space such as a restaurant, the process of proving negligence will be similar.

Why do people claim compensation for norovirus?

Although norovirus is usually only short-term and not considered dangerous (although the risk is higher amongst more vulnerable groups such as the very young or old, or those in hospital) contracting it can be extremely unwanted and inconvenient.

In addition to medical bills, holidays can be ruined and a person may not be able to return to work for a period of time. Existing medical conditions can also be exacerbated, leading to further distress and treatment. In any of these situations, compensation can come as a great relief.

Making a guaranteed no win - no fee norovirus compensation claim

A no win no fee agreement (more correctly referred to as a Conditional Fee Agreement) is put in place between the claimant and a qualified lawyer.

The Conditional Fee Agreement is essentially the terms and conditions under which the solicitor is instructed by the client.

The contract lays out what the solicitors will do as well as how he or she will be rewarded if your claim is won.

If you instruct a Quittance Personal Injury solicitor for your norovirus compensation claim there are absolutely no hidden charges , nothing to pay up-front and the comfort that you will never be financially out of pocket.

How to proceed

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