Covid 19 Outbreak

Can I sue for contracting coronavirus?

While the spread of Coronavirus, (the cause of Covid-19) is a worldwide pandemic with causes far superseding the actions of any individual or organization, there can be localized breaches in duty owed by some individuals or organizations to individual citizens that can give rise to legal action once the virus is contracted and harm results.

What is Duty?

Duty is a standard of care owed by one entity or individual to an individual citizen. It calls for required action on the party charged with the duty. In general, in the United States, any member of the general public is charged with no duty to others, besides not acting in a way that is negligent or reckless.

In other words, as long as one person is not acting so as to create a dangerous situation for others (for example, by driving on the public roadway at speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit,) then that person owes no standard of care to other persons.

To illustrate, if a citizen is walking on a bridge over a body of water, and that citizen observes a person in the process of drowning in that body of water, that citizen has no obligation to act in saving the drowning person. Reprehensible as it is, the citizen has no legal obligation to save the other, even if it may be as easy as throwing a nearby life saving buoy to the drowning party.

Special Relationships

Duty is legally imposed upon certain individuals and organizations simply by virtue of the individual or organization assuming a specific position. To illustrate, consider a paramedic employed to respond in a mobile ambulance to a person who expresses a medical emergency by calling 911.

If a paramedic observes a patient who is the subject of a 911 response and who is bleeding profusely, then that paramedic has an affirmative duty to ameliorate the bleeding in an effort to save the patient’s life. If the responding paramedic observes and ignores the bleeding, and the patient dies as the result of the paramedic’s failure to take reasonable, industry-established, and practically available measures to stop the bleeding, then that paramedic can be shown to have breached a duty to the patient.

In short, duty calls for specific action in specific situations, and the failure to act constitutes an affirmative act, in the same sense that a malicious act creates harm. This means that that a passive act (doing nothing) is the same as an active one with respect to duty, once harm occurs.

Further, when an employee acts within the scope of his employment in such a way as to breach a duty of care, and harm results, then the organization that employs that breaching employee bears liability for that breaching employee’s actions, or failure to act. This means that the organization is responsible for the individual employee’s behavior.

Cases of COVID-19 Reported in the US, by Source of Exposure


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Established Practices

In the medical field, as with any other field of expertise or public service, certain practices are established as industry standards. Organizations that operate public buildings or utility vehicles, for example, must utilize established measures to keep their facilities sanitary in times of pandemic like the current one.

This involves cleaning any surfaces in buildings or vehicles that are physically touched by multiple persons, and requires regular intervals of cleaning so as to minimize the exposure among people from one use to another.

Get Legal Assistance

If you or a loved one has contracted Coronavirus as the result of the failure of a medical practitioner, hospital, or government body to take reasonable and established measures to prevent your illness from occurring, seek the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer who has expertise and skill in recognizing and proving the breach in duty by responsible parties that resulted in your harm.

You might be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and many other components of recovery in a personal injury suit.

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