Legionnaires disease compensation claims
If you contracted Legionnaires disease due to the negligence of a hotel, restaurant or any other third party, you could be entitled claim compensation.
How Much Could You Claim?

Legionnaires Disease Compensation Claims

Legionnaires disease is a lung infection that can be fatal if not treated promptly. It is caused by the Legionella pneumophila bacteria, which spreads 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 you have contracted the condition due to a third party’s breach of their legal duty to maintain water systems in their control, you may be able to pursue a Legionnaires disease claim.

If you would like to find out if you are entitled to compensation, please call 0800 032 3660 to speak to a personal injury solicitor. You can also use our online claim form to ask for a call back.

What is Legionnaires disease?

Legionnaires disease is a severe and sometimes life-threatening lung infection (a form of pneumonia). It is caused by the Legionella bacteria, commonly found in freshwater environments like lakes and streams. It can also multiply in artificial water systems, such as air conditioning, hot tubs, cooling towers and showers.

You may become infected with the bacteria by inhaling tiny droplets of water or mist containing it. You can contract Legionnaires disease from any place that fails to maintain a safe water system, including hotels, hospitals, cruise ships and spas. It is not typically spread from person to person.

If left untreated, it can lead to severe respiratory complications and can even be fatal. It is essential to seek medical attention if you experience symptoms of this disease, especially after exposure to environments where the bacteria may be present. If you developed Legionnaires disease due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.

What are the symptoms of Legionnaires disease?

There are several symptoms of Legionnaires disease, which typically develop two to ten days after exposure to the bacteria. Many of these are similar to those of the flu, which can make diagnosis difficult.  For a doctor to diagnose Legionnaires, they will need a blood or urine sample. Diagnosis is more straightforward if they know there is a Legionnaires outbreak in the local community or area where the patient has recently been. Some of the most common symptoms of the disease include:

  • Fever and high temperature
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness and exhaustion

As the condition progresses, it can lead to more severe symptoms, such as bloody mucus, chest pains and shortness of breath. You should seek immediate medical care if your cough has lasted for more than three weeks or if you have any other severe symptoms.

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 you can fully recover.

Treatment and possible complications

Legionnaires disease is typically treated with antibiotics like azithromycin or erythromycin. These are administered for 7-10 days in cases of moderate to severe pneumonia and for up to 21 days if the patient is immunocompromised. You may get the antibiotics directly into a vein if you need hospitalisation or as a pill to swallow.

Treatment may also involve supportive care, such as oxygen therapy to help with breathing and IV fluids to prevent dehydration. Most people make a full recovery, but about 5 to 10% of patients will die due to complications. These include:

  • Respiratory failure occurs when the lungs cannot provide enough oxygen and remove enough carbon dioxide from the blood
  • Acute renal failure if your kidneys stop working and cannot filter waste out of the blood
  • Encephalopathy if your neurologic symptoms get worse
  • Empyema, if pockets of pus develop in the spaces around your lungs

Legionnaires disease can also have long-term consequences, such as:

  • Chronic coughing, shortness of breath, and a reduction in lung capacity
  • Prolonged fatigue and weakness
  • Neurological symptoms such as confusion, memory issues, and difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety, depression and other psychological issues
  • Permanent scarring of lung tissue, which can impair lung function

If you have developed the condition due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to make a claim for Legionnaires disease.

How can you contract the disease?

Legionnaires disease can occur when there are hazardous levels of Legionella pneumophila bacteria in the water. The illness can be due to drinking water or inhaling vapours or drops of water that are contaminated, such as from a shower or fountain spray.

The bacteria is usually contracted from public areas, meaning that more cases typically occur at once. Some of the most common places related to claims for Legionnaires disease include:

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
  • Taps and shower heads
  • Large plumbing systems
  • Humidifiers

The Legionella pneumophila bacteria can multiply in unhygienic conditions, leading to toxic levels ingested by those in contact with contaminated water. This typically happens when water systems are not maintained or cleaned properly.

Not all the people exposed to the bacteria become ill. Several risk factors make you more likely to develop the infection, including:

  • Being 50 years or older
  • Smoking or being a former smoker
  • Suffering from a chronic lung disease like emphysema
  • Having a weak immune system or taking immunosuppressants
  • Suffering from cancer or an underlying illness like diabetes
  • Having stayed in a hospital recently

Who is liable for Legionnaires disease outbreaks?

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. These include the legal responsibility to prevent the spread of Legionnaires disease by following strict procedures. The health and safety practices that owners and occupiers of public premises should follow include:

  • Carry out regular risk assessments and inspections to ensure that water systems are clean and disinfected;
  • Regularly remove rust, limescale, algae and other build-ups from water systems, clean and disinfect them;
  • Ensure that cold and hot water temperatures meet their prime ranges to prevent bacterial growth, as Legionella pneumophila bacteria cannot thrive in water temperatures below 20ºC or above 60ºC.

If there is a breach of a third party’s legal duty of care and this results in an outbreak of the disease, you could make a personal injury claim for Legionnaires disease compensation.

Can I make a Legionnaires disease claim?

If you contracted Legionnaires’ disease as a result of someone else’s negligence, you are likely eligible to start a claim for compensation. A solicitor can determine if your case has merit by verifying whether:

  • You were diagnosed with the disease in the last three years
  • Another party who owed you a duty of care was responsible for it
  • They breached their duty by acting negligently

Based on your circumstances, the responsible party could be your employer, a business owner, a healthcare provider or the local council. Your solicitor will refer to legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 to prove a duty of care and liability. Once this is established, they will help you gather evidence to start your claim.

You are also entitled to make a Legionnaires disease compensation claim if you contracted the disease while on holiday abroad. Based on your situation, you may be able to claim in the UK, or you may have to pursue your case in the country where you contracted the disease. You can find out more about this on our holiday accident claims page.

To find out if you can make a Legionnaire’s disease claim, call 0800 032 3660 for a free consultation with a legal adviser.

What evidence do I need to claim compensation?

You will need strong evidence to make a personal injury compensation claim for Legionnaires disease. Your solicitor will review any proof you already have and help you gather anything else you may need to get the compensation you deserve, which could include:

  • Medical records showing that you were diagnosed with the disease, the symptoms you experienced, the treatment you received, and the impact on your health;
  • Expert witness testimony from epidemiologists or medical specialists;
  • Statements from friends and family who can attest to your condition or other people who have also contracted the illness from the same place as you;
  • Photos or videos of the contaminated area, equipment or systems that may have contributed to the spread of the disease;
  • Reports from the local health department who investigated the epidemic;
  • Emails or letters sent to or received from the person or company you hold responsible;
  • Your notes about how the illness has affected your life;
  • Proof of all the financial losses and expenses related to your condition, such as medical bills and lost wages.

Once you have all the necessary documents, your solicitor will calculate how much compensation you should be entitled to claim and begin negotiations with the other side.

Time limits to start a Legionnaires Disease compensation claim

Under the Limitation Act 1980, you must usually claim within three years of being diagnosed with Legionnaires disease. That is known as the claim limitation date, but could be different in certain situations:

  • In child injury claims, the three-year time limit only begins on their 18th birthday, from which they will have until turning 21 to claim. Parents or legal guardians can make claims on behalf of children at any time before their 18th birthday.
  • If the claimant lacks the mental capacity to claim due to complications of Legionnaires disease or a pre-existing condition like Down syndrome or Alzheimer’s, the time limit is suspended. A litigation friend could claim on their behalf without any time limit.
  • If you lost a loved one due to Legionnaires disease, you have three to make a claim for compensation starting from their death or when a post-mortem has confirmed the cause of death.
  • If you developed the disease on holiday abroad, the time limit could depend on the country you travelled to and may be shorter than three years.

As a general rule, it is better to seek legal advice as soon as possible after your diagnosis. That will help your solicitor investigate your case and gather strong evidence to secure Legionnaires disease compensation.

Can I make a personal injury claim on a No Win No Fee basis?

The personal injury lawyers we work with help you claim compensation under a no win no fee* agreement if you have a valid case. That means you do not have to pay them anything upfront, and you only have to pay them if your claim is successful.

If you win compensation for Legionnaires disease, your solicitor will receive a success fee capped at 25% of your compensation award. If you lose, you do not have to pay them a single penny, which removes the financial risk of starting a claim.

If you make a no win no fee claim, you are also protected against legal expenses and disbursements. Your solicitor will take out After the Event (ATE) insurance for you, covering all the costs incurred during litigation if you lose the case, both by you and the defendant. The price of the ATE premium depends on your circumstances, and you only pay it if you receive compensation.

How much compensation can I claim for Legionnaires disease?

The amount of compensation you could receive if you make a successful Legionnaires disease claim will depend on the degree of your suffering and related financial losses. Your injury lawyer will ensure all your damages are included in your claim and you receive the maximum compensation settlement possible, which will cover two types of losses:

General damages are awarded for the pain and suffering caused by the illness and will take into account:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional and psychological distress
  • Loss of consortium and companionship
  • Reduced quality of life and life expectancy
  • Physical and mental disability
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Inability to engage in a hobby or social event

Special damages are awarded for the related financial losses and expenses, such as:

  • Physical therapy and counselling
  • Medical bills for private treatments
  • Prescription costs and medical aids
  • Costs of care and assistance
  • Lost wages from missed work during recovery
  • Loss of earning capacity

According to historical cases and the guidelines offered by the Judicial College, you could receive the following awards for general damages:

  • £4,240 to £15,860 if the illness had a minor impact on your life and you make a full recovery
  • £16,580 to £27,450 if the disease has caused moderate symptoms and some long-term complications such as chronic cough and breathlessness
  • £24,950 to £48,080 for severe symptoms and long-term complications
  • Up to £307,000 for wrongful death cases

If you want to start a claim for Legionnaires disease or learn more about how much compensation you could be entitled to, call 0800 032 3660 today or use our online claim form to speak to a legal adviser.

* Personal injury claims are offered on a no win, no fee basis. If your claim is successful, your solicitor will receive up to 25% of your compensation as their success fee. Any additional costs, such as legal protection insurance, will be clearly explained to you by your solicitor before you decide to proceed with your claim. Termination fees may apply if you fail to cooperate with your solicitor. This includes deliberately misleading your solicitor, failing to attend scheduled medical or expert examinations, or not appearing at a required court hearing.