Can You Sue in Personal Injury for Contracting the Coronavirus?
As more and more businesses close or limit their operations because of the Coronavirus, people may just assume that they are doing so in the name of public safety. To some extent, that is true—many businesses are voluntarily limiting operations in an effort to avoid spreading the COVID-19 disease. But there also may be other reasons why businesses are closing during this pandemic—fear of being sued.
Making Claims for Contracting COVID-19
Suing a business for contracting COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) would be a very tough claim to make but no business wants to be the first defendant sued for helping the virus spread. Liability for assisting in or facilitating the spread of the virus would be tough for victims, for a number of reasons.
The initial reason is causation. In any personal injury suit, the victim must show that the Defendant being sued actually caused the injury. In most causes, causation is easy. If you are in a car accident and your head hits the windshield and you suffer a brain injury, there is little doubt that the accident caused your injury.
However, with the virus, a victim would have to show that he or she actually contracted the virus on the Defendant’s premises, from someone on the Defendant’s premises, or because of something the Defendant did or did not do. This would be extraordinarily difficult, for no other reason that the virus is spreading almost everywhere, and thus, someone who contracts it could conceivably have gotten it from anywhere.
Hypothetically, you could have a victim who has had no exposure to the virus except for being on the Defendant’s property. However, that the virus was contracted on the Defendant’s property would still be a tough claim to prove.
Then there is the problem of comparative negligence. A jury may be able to find that a victim, by being out of his or her house and on someone’s property, contributed to getting the virus. This may be a tougher claim if the victim was somewhere essential, like a grocery store, doctor’s office or pharmacy. But if the Defendant was somewhere that people are not supposed to be given the warnings and restrictions being put on by local governments, a jury would likely find the victim responsible for not heeding the numerous warnings put out by government officials.
Waivers and Hold Harmless Agreements
Many properties may also have people sign waivers. Although these “hold harmless” waivers are not always enforceable, there is a chance that they could be for lawsuits related to contracting the Coronavirus. Contracting any type of disease, from a common cold to the flu, are things that we all risk, whenever or wherever we go. A court could find that the risk of contracting disease is covered in any hold harmless agreements that a business may make a victim sign.
The Tampa personal injury attorneys at Barbas, Nuñez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian can help you make difficult claims, and understand who is responsible for your injuries. Call us today to discuss obtaining damages after any accident. Schedule a consultation today.