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Legionnaires’ Disease Compensation Claims

Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection that can prove to be fatal if not treated promptly. If you or a loved one has suffered from this disease due to the negligence of a third party, you may be entitled to pursue a Legionnaires’ disease compensation claim.

The infection is caused by the Legionella pneumophila bacteria and is spread through contaminated water. The disease accounts for the cause of around 2% of all pneumonia cases in hospitals in the country each year.

Legionnaires’ disease can be prevented by adequate maintenance of water systems and thorough hygiene procedures. If the disease is contracted because of a third-party’s breach of their legal duty to maintain water systems in their control, a claim for compensation may be made.

What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease?

There are several symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, many of which are similar to those of the flu and so diagnosis can be difficult. For a doctor to diagnose Legionnaires’, a blood or urine sample will be taken. Diagnosis is easier if a doctor knows that Legionnaires’ is present in the local community. Some of the most common symptoms of the disease include:

  • Fever and high temperature
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Diarrhoea
  • In rare cases, the disease can progress to pneumonia

Legionnaires’ disease is spread through water and not from one person to another. The illness can be treated with an antibiotic called erythromycin. The sooner treatment begins, the less severe the symptoms will be, and the quicker a full recovery can be achieved.

Further details about the symptoms and treatment of Legionnaires disease can be found on the NHS website.

Legionnaires’ Disease Liability

Legionnaires’ disease can occur when there are hazardous levels of Legionella pneumophila bacteria in the water. The disease is usually contracted through drinking contaminated water or the inhalation of vapours or drops of the water such as from those at a fountain spray.

Cases of Legionnaires’ disease often occur through the contraction in public areas, meaning that several cases usually occur at once. Some of the most common places that claims for Legionnaires’ disease occur include:

  • Hotels
  • Cruise ships
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Hostels
  • Offices
  • Restaurants or pubs

In these environments, various sources can lead to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, including:

  • Air conditioning systems
  • Water systems
  • Fountains
  • Swimming pools
  • Cooling towers
  • Spas
  • Jacuzzis

Legionnaires’ disease is caused when water systems are not maintained or cleaned properly, and this can lead to outbreaks. The Legionella pneumophila bacteria can multiply in unhygienic conditions, leading to toxic levels being ingested by those in contact with contaminated water.

Who is liable for outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease?

There is a legal duty of care placed on landlords, property owners, local authorities and employers to ensure that health and safety guidelines are met. This includes the legal responsibility to prevent the spread of Legionnaires’ disease through following strict procedures. The health and safety procedures that should be followed include:

  • Regular risk assessments and inspections to ensure that water systems are clean and disinfected
  • Ensuring that rust, limescale, algae and other build-ups are regularly removed from water systems
  • Ensuring that cold and hot water temperatures meet their prime ranges to prevent bacterial growth. Legionella pneumophila bacteria is not able to thrive in temperatures below 20ºC or above 60ºC.

If there is a breach of the legal duty of care of a third party and this results in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, a claim for negligence can be brought against those responsible and compensation can be sought.