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Will the Legionnaires’ outbreak in Edinburgh lead to a surge in claims?

by precisionclaims on July 10, 2012

A deadly disease has been spreading across the Scottish capital over the past month leading to serious questions regarding the city’s water management and safety to the general public as health officials state the outbreak has reached its peak.

The outbreak of Legionnaires’ across Edinburgh has already taken the lives of two men, both from the city, however this number could easily rise with 48 confirmed cases and 47 suspected cases within the South West of the city.

What is Legionnaires’?

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia which can often be fatal if left untreated. It can affect anyone, however those who suffer from long term illness, regularly smoke or are young or old are more susceptible.

The causes of the disease is from a bacterium that can be found in water sources including rivers, reservoirs and purpose built water systems where it can multiply, however the disease is usually contracted abroad due to dirty water and is rarely found in the UK.

When the bacterium is dispersed into the air it can contaminate the entire area surrounding the source which in turn can affect the local population.

So will this lead to a surge in compensation claims?

The source of the outbreak is yet to be established after weeks of testing, however it is believe the disease originated from a cooling tower in the south of the capital. If this confirmed then I certainly predict a surge in personal injury claims will follow.

Any member of the public who has contracted Legionnaires’ disease has the right to take legal action against an offending company due to the potentially fatal nature of the disease.

The fact that the bacteria has spread due to human negligence across Edinburgh, resulting in illness for so many in such a short amount of time, entitles victims to make a case against the company who is at fault.

Three major organisations across the city have already been handed an improvement notice by health officials as part of the investigation into the source of the outbreak including the North British Distillery, Macfarlan Smith and The National Museum.

What is being done to contain the outbreak?

  • Once the outbreak had been confirmed by Health and Safety Executives and the City Council, an incident team swung into action to find out the source of the disease.
  • Environmental health officers have asked all companies who use a water system on a regular basis to oversee specialist contractors ensuring they undertake refresher training and regularly check the supply.
  • Companies linked to the outbreak have been given an improvement notice to ensure their water supply is regularly checked and maintained.

While the Health a Safety Executive and Edinburgh Council are counting investigations into the possible source, the outbreak has undoubtedly raised serious questions.

About the author: As Managing Director of Precision Claims Simon Thompson has vast experience of dealing with claims for illness and injury. They have a personal injury team that deals with a range of different cases. Visit their personal injury claims page here.

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