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Legionnaires' Disease Attorney in Boston, MA

Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection people contract as a result of breathing in contaminated water droplets in the air. Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease often occur in places like hotels, nursing homes, apartment complexes, and other large buildings.

The number of Legionnaires’ disease cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been on the rise since 2000. According to the CDC, health departments reported almost 10,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the United States in 2018.

However, because the disease, which is also known as legionellosis, is most likely underdiagnosed, the true number of Legionnaires’ disease incidences is probably much higher. Some estimates place the actual number as high as 100,000 cases.

If you’ve been affected by Legionnaires’ disease, you know all too well about the toll this disease can take.

As you struggle with your recovery, you might be wondering who’s to blame for your illness. Who’s responsible for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other aftereffects that go with a diagnosis of Legionnaires’ disease?

The premises liability attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman in Boston can help you obtain compensation for your Legionnaires’ disease injuries.

Our skilled and compassionate attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation of your Legionnaires’ disease claim. We will identify all parties who could be held liable for your injuries and will build a case showing that the negligent actions of those parties caused your disease.

Consider this telling statistic from the CDC: Nine in ten Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are caused by problems that could have been prevented through effective water management.

Multiple parties could share liability for your injuries. For example, the construction firm that designed the building and its plumbing system may have done so improperly. The building owner and manager responsible for scheduling regular maintenance may not have done so. And any companies that serviced the building’s plumbing system or its hot tubs, fountains or pools could have made a mistake.

Our attorneys are ready to answer your questions about Legionnaires’ disease liability and help you with your claim. There are no out-of-pocket fees until we recover compensation for you.

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, it’s imperative that you contact an infectious disease attorney as soon as possible. Any delay in investigating your Legionnaires’ disease claim could impact your case and any compensation that you receive. 

The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman Can Help Prove a Legionnaires’ Disease Claim

In order to win a Legionnaires’ disease claim, a plaintiff must be able to prove:

  • He or she was exposed to Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.
  • The exposure took place at the location claimed.
  • The exposure was caused by the other party’s negligence.
  • The exposure caused a confirmed diagnosis of Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaires disease cases often are resolved through a settlement. Those that do not typically will go to a courthouse to be decided by a jury.

The amount of compensation a Legionnaires’ disease plaintiff may receive will be affected by many factors.

One of those factors is the severity of the disease, including whether the plaintiff is expected to experience long-term health problems. People who develop Legionnaires’ disease are likely to experience respiratory problems, heart problems, kidney damage, neurologic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In cases in which a person dies from Legionnaires’ disease, the victim’s family can file a wrongful death claim against the negligent parties.

Cases involving Legionnaires’ disease are complicated. You need an accomplished infectious disease lawyer on your side. Our attorneys will conduct a comprehensive investigation of the location where the exposure took place. This includes interviewing any witnesses and other people who got sick as well as obtaining relevant documentation from the state health department and other government agencies.

We will identify all parties liable for your exposure, including the property owner and any companies who were hired to perform maintenance. Architects, engineering firms or construction companies responsible for designing or installing a building’s water or plumbing system also could be held liable for damages.

We will make sure that any settlements properly compensate you for the full extent of your injuries and related losses such as lost income.

How Does Legionnaires’ Disease Spread?

In the natural world, Legionella live in fresh water and rarely cause disease. However, in man-made settings, Legionella can grow if water isn’t properly treated. In most cases, Legionella bacterium are spread through water droplets in the air. A health problem is created when small droplets of contaminated water infiltrate the air and are breathed in.

People don’t usually spread Legionnaires’ disease to other people.

It is possible, however rare, for a person to get sick from drinking water contaminated by Legionella if the person aspirated the tainted water. Aspiration occurs when water accidentally goes into the lungs during drinking. People with swallowing difficulties are at risk of aspiration.

Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease are often linked to large water systems found in places like hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, resorts and cruise ships. The most likely sources of infection include:

  • showerheads
  • faucets
  • plumbing systems
  • hot water tanks and heaters
  • cooling towers that are components of large air conditioning systems
  • decorative fountains
  • hot tubs
  • pools
  • humidifiers.

Air conditioning units used in cars and houses don’t use water to cool the air, therefore they don’t promote the growth of Legionella.

What are the Symptoms of and Risk Factors for Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacterium.

Legionella was discovered in 1976 after a disease outbreak affected people who attended an American Legion convention in Philadelphia. The disease became known as Legionnaires’ disease.

Once a person is exposed to Legionella, it takes anywhere from two to fourteen days for symptoms to appear.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include:

  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • muscle aches
  • headache
  • fever

Less common symptoms are diarrhea, nausea and confusion.

Legionnaires’ disease is serious but can be treated with antibiotics. Most people who develop the disease will need to be treated in a hospital. Approximately 10% of people who get Legionnaires’ disease will die from the illness.

While most healthy people don’t get Legionnaires’ disease after being exposed to Legionella, individuals who are 50 years of age or older or have certain risk factors are more likely to get sick. These risk factors include:

  • Being a current or former smoker.
  • Having chronic lung disease such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Having a weakened immune system from diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
  • Taking medications that weaken the immune system.

Some people who are exposed to Legionella experience a flu-like illness known as Pontiac fever. Pontiac fever differs from Legionnaires’ disease because it’s a milder infection and does not result in pneumonia. Pontiac fever goes away on its own.

The first identified cases of Pontiac fever occurred in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1968, and affected individuals who worked at and visited the city’s health department. When Legionella was discovered nearly ten years later, public health officials were able to show that the bacterium causes both diseases.

An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Hampton, New Hampshire, in 2018 caused concern about the disease in Massachusetts. The outbreak was linked to a hot tub and water system at a Sands Resort. In a final report, New Hampshire officials said there were 49 people with confirmed, probable or suspected cases. The outbreak was linked to two deaths.

You can read more about Legionnaires’ disease on Massachusetts’ website.

How Can Legionnaires’ Disease Be Prevented?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the key to preventing Legionnaires’ disease is water management programs.

The CDC has a “toolkit” to help building owners and managers develop and implement a water management program aimed at reducing the growth and spread of Legionella.

Because Legionella grows best in warm water, hot tubs provide fertile breeding ground for growth of the bacterium.

The CDC recommends that hot tubs be cleaned as recommended by the manufacturer and that levels of chlorine and other chemicals be checked on a regular basis.

People using hot tubs or spas can ask the owner or operator about health inspections and maintenance prior to use to make sure that the hot tubs or spas are safe for use. Some relevant questions include:

  • What was the most recent health inspection score?
  • Are the disinfectant levels and pH checked at least twice every day?
  • Are the disinfectant levels and pH checked more often when the hot tub or spa is being used by many people?
  • Is the slime or biofilm layer removed on a daily basis?
  • Is the hot tub or spa’s water filter replaced pursuant to the manufacturer’s recommendations?
  • Is the hot tub or spa’s water changed as often as required by the health department or recommended by the manufacturer?

To learn more about how our infectious disease attorneys can help with a Legionnaires’ disease claim, contact The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC today at (617) 367-2900 or using our online form.

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