The Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Atlanta, traced back to the Sheraton Hotel, promises to be the largest in the U.S. history. One person has already been confirmed dead, and, according to the CDC, 12 persons already tested positive for the bacteria responsible for a severe form of pneumonia.
Even though the hotel closed its doors in mid-July, 63 more probable cases are awaiting confirmation, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health officials. The health officials estimate that the number of victims could reach hundreds.
Although some victims are already preparing to file lawsuits, others have no idea what their rights and legal options are. At Schneider Hammers, we are closely monitoring the situation and providing victims with the information, advice, and support they need.
If you were a guest of the Sheraton hotel and you discover that you have been infected with the legionella bacteria, this post will explain everything you need to know, from what your rights are to how you can defend them.
To further express our concern and support for the victims, we also provide free preliminary consultations. If you or a loved one are confirmed or probable victims of the outbreak, call our office and make an appointment! One of our lawyers will review your case, explain your rights, and help you defend them.
Did you visit this Atlanta Hotel from June 10th-July 20th 2019?
You may be entitled to financial compensation. File your claim today and help us hold them accountable.
How Did the Outbreak Occur at the Sheraton?
The cases already confirmed stayed at the hotel between June 12 and July 15, when the hotel closed its doors. However, the investigations do not rule out previous infections. As mentioned above, there are 63 more probable cases.
The respective hotel guests display symptoms of the disease but they have yet to receive the test results confirming the presence of the bacteria. The results for the samples collected from the hotel’s water and heating systems are being expected as well.
While Sheraton Hotel probably learned their lessons (they surely will once the lawsuits end if they did not), other facilities should learn it as well. According to the CDC, the number of Legionnaires’ disease cases has been rising continuously throughout the past nine years, approximately 7,500 cases being reported in 2017. Considering that the disease is likely underdiagnosed, chances are the number of cases is actually much higher.
What is Legionnaires Disease?
Although most Legionnaires’ cases in Georgia were traced back to health care facilities, the bacteria can develop in many other environments as well. It may appear in hotels, apartment buildings, senior care facilities, and basically any building with a hot water system.
The legionella bacteria responsible for the disease thrives in warm water. It may grow in water fountains, radiators, swimming pools, dishwashers, hot tubs, plumbing systems, and any places that heat or allow the water to evaporate.
In order for the infection to occur, a person has to inhale bacteria-filled water vapors. Heating the water to the right temperature would kill the bacteria. Unfortunately, this rarely occurs. Moreover, the bacteria is quite resilient and difficult to eliminate.
While the disease is not contagious, you can easily catch it at the shower, in the vicinity of a water fountain, or from a hot air flow. Considering that most buildings use steam for their cooling and heating systems, these make an excellent breeding and spreading ground for the bacteria.
Anyone can get infected but risks are especially high for persons that have exceeded 50 years of age, have a history of lung disease, or their immune system is weakened. Smokers and those with respiratory systems functioning at less than 100% are more vulnerable as well.
Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia, a serious type of lung infection. The bacteria responsible for Legionnaires’ also causes Pontiac fever. The two diseases are commonly referred to as legionellosis.
Although Pontiac fever is difficult to put up with, it has higher survival rates and is easier to treat, as it does not require antibiotics. Left untreated or coupled with other health conditions, Legionnaires’ disease can be deadly. In fact, 1 in 10 patients is likely to die from it.
Treating it requires prompt administration of antibiotics. Sometimes, not even prompt treatment ensures fast clearing of the disease, and the symptoms linger long after the infection. Many patients and physicians fail to trace the symptoms back to the disease, misdiagnosing it.
The first symptoms to look out for are headaches, muscle aches, chills, and fever that may exceed 104. Other symptoms appear within two or three days. Perhaps the easiest to recognize is the cough, which clears up mucus and may even produce blood.
Sometimes, the patient also experiences chest pain and shortness of breath. Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting are common as well. Sufferers may also experience states of confusion and other mental symptoms.
We will provide further updates as more information about the outbreak and the Sheraton Atlanta Legionnaires lawsuits becomes available. In the meantime, if you or a loved one stayed at the hotel during the last couple of months and display any of the symptoms mentioned above, reach out to your medical provider for treatment!
Your health and well-being should be your priority, and Legionnaires’ disease is a serious threat to both. Once you are safe and sound, you can start worrying about other rights and options, such as the possibility to sue the hotel and seek compensation.
How do I know if I have legionnaires disease?
Typical Symptoms include
Within 2-10 days after exposure to the bacteria:
- Muscle pain
- Chills and a fever that may be 104 degrees or higher
By the Second of third day, other symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest Pain
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Confusion or other mental changes
Legionella Pneumonia Complication:
- If left untreated can be fatal
- Respiratory Failure
- Septic Shock
What Are the Legal Rights of Legionella Infection Victims?
Legionella infections are preventable by routine cleaning and safety measures. These are reasonable duties for every accommodation facility, including the Sheraton Hotel. Neglecting their duty makes them responsible for the consequences.
If you got sick while on the hotel property and due to their negligence, the law gives you the right to sue them for damages. You should be able to recover all your medical expenses and any lost wages. You should also receive compensation for any injuries, pain and suffering, or death the disease has caused or may cause.
What to Do If You Think You Have a Legionnaires’ Disease Case
As mentioned above, your priority should be to receive treatment and, while at it, get a clear diagnosis. Once you have those, you should seek experienced help. Legionnaires’ disease cases can be challenging to prove and handle, so you will need a knowledgeable and dedicated lawyer with proven experience in the field.
Assuming that you choose the right person, you can expect them to take over all hassles and let you focus on your recovery. They will be your source of information, advice, and support, your representative in court, and the defendant of your rights.
Their responsibilities will include:
- Obtaining all the necessary medical reports to prove the nature of your disease, its source, the treatment required, and its implications (in terms of both finances and pain and suffering)
- Investigating the source of the infection and gathering evidence of the defendant’s negligence
- Obtaining copies of the reports filed by local, state, and federal health departments and agencies
- Identifying and interviewing witnesses and other victims that may help prove your case
- Obtaining expert testimonies to confirm and support various elements of your case
- Estimating the value of your claim
- Filing the claim with the defendant’s insurer or suing the defendant in court
- Representing you during formal and informal meetings and hearings
- Analyzing settlement offers and negotiating better terms
- Appealing the insurer or the court’s decision (usually unnecessary when you work with a Schneider Hammers Legionnaires’ disease lawyer)
How these steps are fulfilled will define the outcome of all Sheraton Atlanta Legionnaires lawsuits.
How Can a Legionnaires’ Disease Lawyer Help?
In order to obtain compensation for your losses and suffering, you will need to prove that:
- The building owner or manager, in this case the Sheraton Hotel, had the duty to follow important safety rules, that would have prevented the growing and spreading of the bacteria.
- They neglected to follow those rules, and their negligence allowed the bacteria to grow and spread into the air.
- The bacteria infected you or your loved one, causing the expenses, losses, and suffering subject to your compensation claim.
- Had it not been for their negligence, the infection and its consequences would not have occurred.
In order to be compensated for all your losses and suffering, you will also have to prove those. A Legionnaires’ disease lawyer can help you gather the necessary evidence. They will also take over all formalities, allowing you to focus on your recovery and getting your life back on track.
Contact Schneider Hammers Today for a FREE Consultation!
At Schneider Hammers, our Atlanta Injury Lawyers know how terrifying Legionnaires’ disease can be and what serious repercussions it can have. If you or a loved one have been infected due to another party’s negligence, we want to help you receive the compensation you deserve.
To prove our support and consideration, we are offering free consultations, in which we review cases and explain the victims’ rights and legal options. You too can benefit from one. Contact us now and schedule a consultation with our Legionnaires’ disease lawyer! Why struggle to obtain information on your own or pay for it when you can obtain it from a knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated attorney for free?