Can You File a Coronavirus Personal Injury Lawsuit for Transmitting the Disease?
In this time of “safer-at-home” and stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and quarantines, people are wondering whether they can sue another person for transmitting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Some people may argue, “If you can sue another individual for giving you STDs, it makes sense that you should be able to file a lawsuit over COVID-19 infections.” While some people can face legal consequences during the coronavirus pandemic, especially if they violated a state or local order (e.g., a stay-at-home order), filing a personal injury lawsuit against a person for transmitting COVID-19 would be tricky.
As of April 1, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 24 coronavirus deaths and nearly 2,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. However, health experts warn that Tennessee will see the deadliest point of the coronavirus disease somewhere around mid-to-late April.
Can You Sue for Infecting You with COVID-19?
Unlike other situations in which a person’s negligence causes injury to another individual – for instance, car crashes or pedestrian accidents – the transmission of coronavirus is unlikely to give you grounds to file a civil lawsuit to recover compensation from the person who allegedly infected you.
Even if you are confident that the person-to-person spread of the virus caused you to contract the disease, you will most likely have a hard time recovering damages through a personal injury lawsuit. But why?
Why Suing Another Person for Infecting You with Coronavirus is Tricky
Any personal injury case requires the claimant to prove two elements:
- The defendant (the person who allegedly infected you) was negligent or did something wrong; and
- There is an established link between the defendant’s negligence and the claimant’s harm.
In the context of a coronavirus-based personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff would have to prove that it was the defendant, not anyone else, who actually transmitted COVID-19 onto the plaintiff. The mere presumption of being infected by that individual is not sufficient evidence.
The problem with proving the first element is that the coronavirus disease is so easily transmitted from person to person that most personal injury lawsuits based on COVID-19 would not succeed.
How Come You Can Sue for Transmitting STDs, But Not Coronavirus?
When discussing liability for transmitting the coronavirus disease, the topic of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) often comes up. Unlike in cases of COVID-19, which is transmitted through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, the transmission of STDs is typically based on:
- Intentional acts (sexual intercourse);
- Intentional misrepresentation of the disease; and
- Failure to disclose critical information about one’s STD.
For this reason, the fact of transmitting STDs as well as the link between the wrongdoing and resulting harm is easier to prove compared to cases of COVID-19.
In other words, posing a threat to the public cannot be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, as the majority of people who infect others are doing so unintentionally and unknowingly. Also, proving that some identifiable person was the one who infected you with the coronavirus during the pandemic can be extremely difficult.
Speak with our Nashville personal injury attorney to determine whether your particular situation has grounds for a lawsuit against the person who infected you with COVID-19. Contact Calhoun Law, PLC, to receive a free consultation. Call at 615-645-2015.