These are troubling times we live in, and nobody is quite sure when the current COVID-19 pandemic will end. Also known as “Coronavirus”, this illness has been shown to spread easily between people and can cause severe illness and even death. Most areas of the U.S. (and the world) have adopted social distancing and isolation practices, but much of it still comes down to personal discretion. So what if you or someone you love contracts COVID-19 as a result of someone else’s carelessness?
Lawsuits exist in the first place as a means of getting justice after suffering from someone else’s negligence. So, it’s only natural to wonder if you can file suit after getting Coronavirus. The truth is that these situations are still very new, but it is possible to recover damages if there was negligence involved. Here’s what you need to know.
Under What Circumstances Can I Sue for Contracting COVID-19?
There are a wide variety of situations and circumstances in which you may be able to recover damages for you or a loved one contracting Coronavirus:
- It was contracted at a hospital, nursing home, or other medical facility when protective/preventative measures were not taken.
- It was contracted at work (or in some cases, on the way to or from work), when you were not permitted to work from home and/or appropriate safety measures were not taken.
- It was contracted on a cruise ship, when staff members did not practice appropriate caution.
- It was contracted while under arrest or in jail (contact us to learn more about these circumstances)
Again, there must have been a lack of reasonable care or negligent behavior that resulted in the virus being contracted. Your attorney will look closely at all of the circumstances involved.
What Makes For a Successful Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Successfully recovering damages in cases of personal injury can be broken down to four key factors:
1. The Damages – Unless you have proven damages (physical, emotional, loss of income, etc.), you have no grounds for a lawsuit.
2. Causation – In this case, you must be able to determine, when, where and how Coronavirus was contracted. It’s worth noting that your own responsibility (liability) will be taken into account.
3. Duty to Provide Care – You must be able to establish that the named party (the defendant, or person / entity you are suing) had the responsibility of providing reasonable care that would have helped prevent the virus from being contracted.
4. Failure to Provide Care – You must be able to provide evidence that this reasonable care was not provided or done so carelessly.
Is Recovering Damages for Contracting an Illness Precedented By Any Other Cases?
Even though COVID-19 is considered to be a new illness and the modern pandemic is unprecedented, there are in fact some previous lawsuits that can be used as precedent, that is, setting an example. STI/STD lawsuits (particularly when it comes to permanent conditions like HIV and Herpes) have long existed and have been successful in cases of negligence and failure to inform people of their risk. Likewise, in 2016 a nurse successfully sued the hospital she worked at when she contracted Ebola from a patient.
Coronavirus lawsuits have already begun as well. For example, the family of a person who died from the virus in Illinois recently filed suit against their employer (Walmart) for not taking the appropriate protective measures.
Because of the success of lawsuits like this, the likelihood of recovering damages in current cases of negligence is very good. That said, it is still important to realize that each case will be different, and therefore it is crucial to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
The Bottom Line
In the modern pandemic and economic crisis, every moment counts. If you or a loved one has tested positive for COVID-19, it is important that you do not wait to seek out legal representation. Our team has years of experience recovering personal injury and liability damages, and we are ready to help you.