Civil Liability for Coronavirus Injuries

A woman wears mask to avoid coronavirus

People who get sick with COVID-19 may pursue legal action for their illness-associated losses. An infectious disease able to spread through person-to-person contact, the coronavirus pandemic has swept the state of Nevada, the U.S., and the world. As of May 6, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report more than 1.19 million U.S. cases and 70,802 deaths resulting from the virus across the country.

Potential Lawsuits for Coronavirus Infections

Those infected with coronavirus may file negligence- or battery-based personal injury claims for their illness-associated losses. Depending on the circumstances of how they got sick, people sick with COVID-19 may choose to sue the other people they believe caused their infections or the owners of the locations where their exposures, and thus, their infections occurred.  

Negligence-Based COVID-19 Claims

People who contract the coronavirus may file legal claims against those they believe responsible for their infections based on negligence. They may successfully recover damages in such cases by proving the person who infected them or property owner where their exposure occurred owed them a duty of care to protect them from getting sick and somehow breached that duty. For instance, people may claim they contracted COVID-19 while visiting a doctor’s office that did not adhere to the appropriate state and federal guidelines. Those seeking compensation in negligence-based coronavirus cases must also show that the negligence directly led to their infections and the associated damages.

Battery-Based Coronavirus Cases

Should people with COVID-19 believe someone else intentionally infected them, they may choose to file a battery-based tort against the person whom they hold responsible. For example, lawsuits may be based on this cause of action in cases when someone enters a store knowing he or she has the virus and intentionally spits on produce or other customers. Although no physical contact occurred, such interactions may qualify as offensive contact.

Recoverable Damages for Coronavirus Injuries

If successful in their legal actions, people may recover compensation for their coronavirus-related losses. In addition to damages for the pain and suffering they experienced due to the infection, people may also receive compensation for their associated medical expenses, the costs of any necessary future medical care, and their lost income while in the hospital or self-quarantine. Should the defendants in such cases invoke comparative negligence and those infected are found in part at fault for getting sick, their damages may be reduced by their percentage of official blame.