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Can You Sue for a Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak?

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If you suspect that you have contracted legionnaires’ disease from a legionnaires’ disease outbreak while staying at a Las Vegas, Nevada hotel, you may have the right to recover compensation from those responsible. Generally, the individuals liable for such incidents are the owners, operators, or managers of the premises where the outbreak occurred. This could be a hotel, hospital, senior living facility, cruise ship, apartment building, or any other type of property. These parties are obligated to take necessary precautions to safeguard the individuals staying on their premises from known risks, such as the Legionella bacterium.

female doctor studying x-ray. concept of Can You Sue for a Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak

How an Investigation of a Legionnaires’ Disease Claim Works

Did you contract Legionnaires’ disease while at a Las Vegas resort? If you and another individual are diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease and have both recently stayed at the same hotel, health authorities will typically investigate the hotel. They will examine water samples to determine if Legionella bacteria is present in the water supply.

Inspection of the Hotel

Typically, a health official will do a walk-through inspection accompanied by a facilities engineer or an experienced maintenance staff member. They will check the condition of the facility, the temperature of all water systems, any signs of bio-film growth or scale buildup, and the location of any connections between the AC and domestic water systems.

The systems investigated include hot and cold domestic water systems, faucets, pipes, water heaters, water coolers, water treatment equipment, storage tanks, condensers, humidifiers, filtration systems, AC cooling towers, fountains, whirlpools and spas, misters, and back-flow devices.

Test for Legionella Bacteria in the Water Supply

If the health official decides to test a hotel’s water systems for Legionella, samples are usually collected from the water source. This can be a cooling tower, hot tub, spa, pool filters, water heaters, hot water storage tanks, or sinks and showers used by individuals who have contracted Legionnaires’ disease. This is referred to as the culture method of testing.

Legionnaires’ Disease tests are used to detect the presence of Legionella bacteria and identify the specific species, such as L. pneumophila. Additional testing can determine the serotype of the species, as there are 15 serogroups for L. pneumophila alone. Further testing can even identify the specific molecular subtype of the serogroup. If individuals who contracted Legionnaires’ Disease were diagnosed using the culture method, tests can be conducted to determine if the pathogen that made them sick matches the molecular subtype of the Legionella discovered in the hotel.

The results of these tests can serve as evidence in a legal case against the hotel.

Aside from testing the water supply, and a walk-through inspection, patients may also be interviewed. If a number of people stayed at the same hotel and developed symptoms within 14 days of each other, this will be sufficient to tie the cases to the hotel. This type of evidence is referred to as epidemiological. Interviews with such patients are critical in collecting epidemiological evidence.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease

The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease closely resemble those of pneumonia, and they appear the same on an x-ray of the chest. Symptoms can begin developing within two days from exposure to the bacteria. The symptoms begin with a fever of at least 104 °F, chills, muscle pain, or a headache. Thereafter, further symptoms may develop, including:

  • Coughing blood or mucus.
  • Confusion or other mental changes.
  • Chest pain.
  • Gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Muscle aches.

Treatment for Legionnaires’ Disease

If you are showing symptoms similar to pneumonia, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Legionnaires’ disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics, but it can quickly progress to pneumonia and may require hospitalization for a full recovery. If left untreated, it can be life-threatening.

How Does the Legionella Bacteria Spread?

Microscopic water droplets in the air contain legionella bacteria and get inhaled. Outbreaks have been caused by fountains used for decoration, mist machines, water systems in medical facilities, hospitals, and residential care facilities, hot tubs, swimming pools, and physical therapy equipment. In hotels, there are some common ways that Legionnaires’ spreads:

Hot Tubs

In hotel hot tubs, legionella bacteria can thrive due to the warm temperature and the addition of contaminants like skin cells and dirt. Proper cleaning, chemical treatment, and routine testing are necessary to prevent the growth of these bacteria. When not disinfected properly, legionella bacteria can multiply and become a health hazard, as people can inhale the contaminated steam and become ill with Legionnaires’ disease.


It is possible to acquire Legionnaires’ disease from a shower due to the steam produced. The bacteria can contaminate the water system if it is not properly cleaned or if water is left stagnant in the shower pipe. You can lower the risk of getting Legionnaires’ disease from a shower by running the water on the coldest setting for a few minutes and then on the hottest setting for a few minutes before using it for the first time.

Saunas and Steam Rooms

Hotels that offer amenities such as fitness centers and spas may also provide sauna or steam rooms that naturally produce warm water vapor. However, if these systems are not maintained properly by the property owner, it could lead to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

Air Conditioning Units

Cooling towers are commonly used in larger buildings such as hotels to provide air conditioning. Unlike residential units, they work by using fans to mix heated water with air to reduce its temperature. The circulating water cools various parts of the system, and the towers remove the heat by emitting water vapor. However, the towers have large water tanks that are exposed to the air, creating an environment where bacteria like legionella can thrive.

Who Can Be Liable In Las Vegas, Nevada for Legionella Outbreak?

The responsibility for a legionella outbreak typically rests with the individuals who own, operate, or manage the premises where it occurs, whether it be hotels, hospitals, senior housing facilities, cruise ships, condominiums, and apartment complexes.

Hotels are legally responsible to ensure the safety of their guests. According to the law, hotel owners and operators have a duty to take reasonable care to prevent guests from harm by hazards on the premises. This includes being vigilant about potential risks that could put guests in danger. All hotel owners and operators should be aware of the risk of Legionnaires’ disease, which can be caused by improper maintenance of pipes and water storage areas.

Steps in a Legionella Personal Injury Case

To succeed in a Las Vegas claim for Legionnaires’ Disease, you will have to prove:

  • You faced exposure to the legionella bacteria.
  • Your exposure happened while at the hotel.
  • Your exposure was due to the negligence of the owner or operator of the hotel.
  • Your exposure to the legionella bacteria caused you to contract Legionnaires’ Disease, which subsequently caused you to sustain losses.

If you have suffered because of a Legionella outbreak, you may recover compensation by filing a personal injury case. To do this, there are several steps to follow:

Seek Medical Attention

The first step if you are experiencing symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease is to seek medical attention. This will help prevent the disease from causing complications. It will also provide you with a formal diagnosis to prove its contraction. Once diagnosed, you can begin tracing the source of the outbreak to the hotel.

Contact a Lawyer

If you have contracted Legionnaires’ disease, a Legionnaires’ disease lawyer can assist you in identifying the origin of your illness, gathering and preparing evidence, evaluating the damages incurred, and preparing a demand letter to present to the liable party. If the responsible party or their insurer refuses your demand or contests your claim, your lawyer can engage in negotiations to obtain equitable compensation.

File a Lawsuit

Should negotiations with the liable party not come to a reasonable resolution, your attorney can file a legionella lawsuit. Your attorney can gather evidence, secure testimony from witnesses, build your case and represent you at trial.

Types of Damages

You may be wondering– how much is a Legionnaires’ disease lawsuit worth? The amount of compensation you receive in your Legionnaires’ disease claim depends on the extent of the harm you suffer. Your financial losses and how the illness affects your life determine what damages you can seek.

There are two types of damages you can claim as compensation in a legionella lawsuit. These are economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are based on medical expenses and lost earnings. They include the costs of initial treatment, prescriptive medication, and assistive medical devices. They can also include long-term costs if there are long-lasting symptoms, as well as lost wages during your recovery.

Non-economic damages are usually based on the emotional loss that you have suffered from the illness. They include anxiety, depression, pain and suffering, disability, and loss of consortium. Quantifying and proving non-economic damages can be a challenge as they do not have direct financial ties.

The George Bochanis Injury Law Offices was established in 1985. Before opening his office, Mr. Bochanis spent years representing major insurance companies in litigation cases and prior to that was a law clerk to a prominent local district court judge. Our offices have grown from a small one person setting to having its own well known office location on South Ninth Street in Downtown Las Vegas with 15 employees.

Years of Experience: More than 28 years
Nevada Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Nevada State Bar Federal Court of Nevada, 3rd Circuit

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