During the Coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people are wondering if they can sue someone if they get Coronavirus or if another party can be held liable if they contracted COVID-19 from them. While there is some legal precedent for cases like negligent transmission, there’s a lot of different types of lawsuits that may arise from this wide-sweeping illness. Like any legal matter though, the details and specific circumstances make all the difference.
Can I File A Lawsuit if I Get Coronavirus?
Chances are good the answer is no, you can’t simply file a lawsuit (successfully anyway) against someone if you think they gave you Coronavirus. There are of course exceptions to this, (which is why you should consult a lawyer), including if the other person: A) knew they were infected, B) did not inform you of this and C) had purposeful contact with you. This type of incident may be actionable under Civil Battery or Negligence laws. The difficulty in this is that you would have to prove all of those conditions, which is extremely difficult, but there may be possible legal precedent that comes from negligent transmission of STDs. For the average person who simply got sick and they think it was from a particular person, there’s not much chance for a lawsuit – especially during a pandemic.
What if my Employer Forced me to Work and I Contracted COVID-19?
While there are a number of additional questions you’d want to discuss with a lawyer, the general answer is that if the employer properly trained you to deal with the “typical” dangers associated with Coronavirus at work, you likely don’t have much grounds for a lawsuit. However, your employment is likely protected if you refuse to go to work if you feel that an unsafe environment is present. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article outlining some of these details and what a reasonable employee might consider safe or unsafe.
Will My Insurance Protect Me From Financial Loss Due to Coronavirus?
Chances are good that the average person (non-business owner) does not have insurance that protects or compensates them for a loss of income due to illness. However, there are policies available to businesses that can help add financial stability during a pandemic or economic downturn called business interruption insurance. The problem is that policies like this are optional and many business owners don’t add this coverage due to the added premium costs. If you are a business owner that has business interruption coverage, and your insurance company has denied your claim you may have grounds for a lawsuit.
Can I Sue a Hospital if I Get Coronavirus from Their Facility?
A common scenario that is bound to come up soon is that a person goes to the hospital for one thing, and contracts COVID-19 while they’re there. If you can prove that the facility was responsible for giving you Coronavirus you potentially have a medical malpractice lawsuit for negligent transmission or failure to follow protocol. However, proving this can be extremely difficult. The way this gets sticky is that if one was treated onsite at a medical facility in the midst of a pandemic, the facility may have the defense of “force majeure“. Force majeure is described on Wikipedia as “a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, plague, virus or an act of God”. The likelihood that one would be able to recover compensation depends on the circumstances.
What are Your Losses?
Something one must always think about when considering a lawsuit is what your provable & verifiable losses are. If you contracted Coronavirus & you can prove the source and negligence, but you only had a mild case there’s likely no cause for a lawsuit. In this type of circumstance, an attorney would likely tell you that you’re lucky and move on. If there’s no losses, there’s likely no compensation. If you’re losses are limited to some lost wages and minor medical bills you may be due some compensation but it may not be worth your time (or a lawyer’s) to pursue it legally. If you can prove significant losses ($30,000+), a lawyer may take your case on contingency.
Death Due to COVID-19
If a spouse, parent, child or close family member died due to contracting Coronavirus, the source can be identified, and the transmission method can be proven you probably have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Seeking Legal Counsel
If you still have questions regarding your matter, you should seek the advice of a competent lawyer who’s experienced with your particular type of claim. If your claim involves your job talk to an employment lawyer, if it involves injury or death talk to a personal injury attorney, etc. There are also a number of scenarios outlined on https://www.covid-19settlements.com/ that discuss potentially actionable circumstances & lawsuits. This article is not legal advice, and is not written by a lawyer. Before taking, or not taking legal action you should consult an experienced attorney to discuss the details of your matter.