In July, a hotel in Atlanta temporarily closed because several guests were diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease following a conference. According to the Georgia Department of Health, 11 guests at the Sheraton Atlanta were confirmed to have contracted Legionnaire’s disease, with 55 other guests showing symptoms of the pneumonic disease, but whose lab results have yet to confirm. Over 400 additional guests were relocated to other hotels. Furthermore, surveys were sent out to all guests who stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta between the dates of June 12 and July 15 to determine if there were other cases of the disease. Investigations by local public health officials are currently underway to determine the cause of the outbreak.
When there are reported cases of Legionnaire’s disease at a public location, health departments will mostly focus their investigation on the water and plumbing system of that building. Originally discovered by scientists in 1976 following an outbreak at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia, the disease is a very serious form of pneumonia that can be fatal. The Legionella bacterium usually exists in freshwater habitats, but can cause serious illness if inhaled or ingested. There were almost 6,100 reported cases of Legionnaire’s disease in 2016, yet it is believed to be more because the disease usually goes undiagnosed. The disease is noncontagious, and results of bloodwork and samples usually take a few weeks to confirm the disease.
According to experts, the workers who traveled to these conferences, stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta, and contracted Legionnaire’s disease will likely be able to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. Although Workers’ Compensation laws vary from state to state, the general understanding is that workers that are injured or become ill while performing a work-related activity are protected and will be compensated. In Pennsylvania, Workers’ Compensation coverage is mandatory; employees and their employers must receive proper medical treatment and have their lost wages covered if they become injured or fall ill at work.
Workers’ Compensation cases can sometimes be straightforward. For example, if an employee at a large-scale hardware store falls off a ladder while stocking merchandise, there may be questions and complications that the insurance company would want to sort through. In terms of injury or illness during an out-of-town conference, a Workers’ Compensation case may not be as clear cut. If you must attend a meeting or conference for work and this trip requires an overnight stay, then you are afforded the necessary activities for this trip. Since you are solely at a destination for work, you should be covered if you fall ill.
If you were injured or became sick while performing work-related travel or activities, then contact the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Gross & Kenny, LLP right away. Our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers will help you receive the highest amount of compensation for you and your family. Contact us today at 267-589-0090 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.