Can You Sue for Getting COVID-19?
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic progressing, the world is beginning to reopen more and more. This means that people are attending more gatherings, going back to work, and resuming what used to be the normal day to day activities. As people go out more, there will, of course, be risks associated with this as more interaction with people means a great chance of exposure to COVID-19. The CDC has made it clear that there are certain things that can help mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19. Such measures as social distancing, wearing a mask, frequent handwashing, and sanitizing of frequently touched surfaces have proven effective in reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread.
What happens, however, when employers and others put people at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to a failure to take steps to mitigate the risk of exposure? Many people have asked about whether or not you can sue a party, such as an employer, should you contract COVID-19. This hypothetical lawsuit would likely be brought under a theory of negligence and would most likely be unsuccessful. The main reason why a lawsuit brought by a pursuant who contracted COVID-19 under a negligence theory would be unlikely to succeed is due to the fact that you must prove causation in a negligence claim.
In a successful negligence claim, the injured party, or “plaintiff,” must prove that the negligent party owed him or her a duty of care, that duty was breached, and the breach was a direct cause of harm to the plaintiff. The defendant, the party the plaintiff is claiming to be negligent, must have directly caused the plaintiff to contract COVID-19. This is difficult to prove when you think about it. Even an employer who required employees to have close interactions with others as part of the employee’s job duties or failed to frequently sanitize surfaces or failed to provide face masks for employees (which is not actually required of employers) may easily escape being held liable. This is because COVID-19 has proven to be highly contagious. It spreads quickly. A person claiming to have contracted COVID-19 at work would have to be prepared to show that there is no other way he or she could have contracted the virus, an unlikely task to successfully accomplish.
There has also been talk of people who have been attending recent political events, such as a presidential rally, suing if they contracted COVID-19. This is unlikely to be successful for the same reason discussed above. Causation will be nearly impossible to prove. Additionally, there is the defense of basic assumption of risk that would have to be addressed as well.
The bottom line is, to stay as safe as possible as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, avoid going out and stay at home as much as possible. Enjoy the time with your family. If you must go out, be sure to use it as an opportunity to have your favorite mask on. Need a mask? Be sure to share this blog on your social media page and like our page as well. We will send you a free high-quality mask featuring our eye of the tiger logo on it.
Remember, in the pandemic and beyond, Fazli & Associates is here for you and your loved ones. Contact us today.