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Holiday Illness Compensation Claims in South Florida

Holiday illness compensation claims in South Florida can be made when a buyer of a holiday vacation package suffers an illness that is covered by contract warranty agreement the customer signed with a travel agency.

Many such claims have centered on holiday traveler food poisoning in South Florida or while on a cruise. The most Florida Foodborne Illness Surveillance and Investigation Annual Report indicated a total of 37 outbreaks for 2011. Foodborne illness statistics in Florida were most recently updated by the state health department in 2011, and tourism has increased steadily since then, so we can expect the true numbers are likely higher.

Common Holiday Illness Compensation Claims in Florida

Some of the most common types of illness resulting in holiday illness compensation claims in South Florida include:

  • Vibrio vulnificus – Waterborne bacteria in brackish water, causally linked to cholera (diarrheal illness of intestine) and vibrosis (wound infection and or sepsis/ blood infection), especially hazardous to those with liver disease and immune disorder, potentially deadly.
  • Norovirus – Bacteria spread by contaminated food, water and contact with infected person; associated with sudden onset diarrhea and severe vomiting; especially common on cruise ships and other confined spaces.
  • Ciguatera – Foodborne illness caused by eating contaminated reef fish (common in the Caribbean and coastal Central America, harmless to fish but poisonous to people); causes pain and nausea, cardiac and neurological symptoms; 50,000 cases annually, few fatal, but children suffer worst effects.
  • Salmonella – Group of common bacteria spread to people by contaminated water or food sources, such as chicken, eggs, salsa, peanuts, tomatoes, guacamole and more; associated with severe nausea, fever, headache and vomiting, gastroenteritis and typhoid fever.

Causes included consumption of or involvement in:

  • Fish
  • Mollusk shellfish
  • Produce vegetables
  • Rice
  • Water recreation

Restaurants, grocery stores and caterers accounted for 67 percent of these cases, while food illness derived due to home food preparation accounted for about 18 percent. Businesses that improperly process, ship, store, prepare and serve food can be held liable for damages caused by resulting injuries. Most of these claims will fall under either general negligence (breach of one’s duty of reasonable care) or product liability (specifically strict product liability). Food-related illness is perhaps the most common kind of traveler illness reported in Florida, through heat stroke, mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika and malaria, antibiotic-resistant MRSA staph infections and bacteria-caused tuberculosis.

Types of Holiday Illness Claims Against Travel Agents, Companies

Travel agents are governed by regulations set forth in F.S. 559.928, with Florida being one of just a handful of states that requires these professionals to register as independent agents. As our South Florida holiday injury attorneys can explain, there are basically two types of holiday illness compensation claims one can make against a travel agent. These include:

  • Simple negligence. Here, clients filing holiday illness compensation claims in South Florida allege actions or omissions by agent – who had a duty to use reasonable care – directly caused plaintiff’s illness/ damages. This could be failure to warn of something potentially dangerous about the booking site, failure to investigate the conditions, accommodations or negligent selection of a hotel or service provider.
  • Vicarious liability. This is where the travel agent is held responsible for negligence of a third party, such as a hotel or operator of an excursion. These claims are less common because they require evidence the travel agent exerted control over the third party and thus was responsible. Usually, travel agents are considered the agent of the client as opposed to the third-party, but there could be some circumstances in which this would apply. For instance, if a contractor is authorized to do business under the name of a travel agency or presents himself/ herself to client as an employee of travel agent.

Disclaimers many travel agents have clients sign can sometimes make holiday illness compensation claims tougher, but speak to a South Florida injury attorney before throwing in the towel – especially if the illness you suffered was serious, requiring hospitalization and resulting in long-term disability or disfigurement. Jurisdictional issues (that is, in which court you can file a claim) can also be answered by an experienced injury lawyer.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Why Brits got the bug for holiday sickness scams, July 31, 2017, By Gavin Haynes, The Guardian

More Blog Entries:

Florida Spinal Injury Cord Injury Attorney: Citrus County Woman Among First Paralyzed Patients to Walk Again, Oct. 31, 2018, South Florida Holiday Illness Compensation Claims

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