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Can You Sue Someone for Giving You COVID-19?

COVID-19 is on everyone’s mind and is raising a growing number of possible legal issues. If you believe you contracted COVID-19 as a result of another’s negligent or intentional conduct, you may be able to hold them accountable under the law. For your claim to succeed, you must show that the Defendant’s negligent or intentional conduct caused your illness, and that you suffered damages as a result, such as medical costs, lost wages, or wrongful death.

Potential Liability for Transmitting COVID-19

If the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that he or she had COVID-19 and unintentionally transmitted it, such as by failing to take proper precautions, he or she may be liable if you can establish that it is more likely than not that this negligence caused you to contract the virus. Likewise, a medical professional or facility may be liable if you contracted the virus as a result of their negligence, such as failure to adhere to proper protocols and precautions or not taking reasonable measures to prevent the spread of the virus

On the other hand, if the defendant knew or reasonably should have known he had COVID-19 and intentionally transmitted it to you, such as by coughing or sneezing on you, he may be liable for assault and/or battery. Under Common Law, assault is the tort of acting intentionally, with either general or specific intent, causing reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact. Battery occurs when the harmful or offensive contact that you apprehended is completed. 

Even when not in the midst of a pandemic, an individual sneezing in your face causes a reasonable apprehension of harm. In this hypothetical instance, the sneeze would constitute assault. However, if someone said, “I’m about to give you Coronavirus” and then sneezed or coughed on you, the statement would constitute assault and the subsequent sneeze or cough would constitute battery, provided you then contracted the virus. 

Should I Bring a Lawsuit?

If you choose to bring a lawsuit, you have the burden of proving that the defendant’s intentional or negligent conduct caused you to contract COVID-19. That can be a difficult thing to prove, particularly with a contagious air-born disease. The more evidence you have to suggest causation, the stronger your claim will be. On the contrary, if it can be shown that you were exposed to the virus multiple times or that you did not take reasonable precautions to protect yourself from the virus, it will be harder to establish that the defendant is the cause—so even more reason to wash your hands and follow CDC guidance!

It is also necessary to show that you have suffered damages. It is important to weigh the damages for which you are seeking recovery against the time, money, and energy involved in a lawsuit. It is likely worthwhile to pursue a lawsuit if contracting the virus has caused you to incur expensive medical care or a life-long condition. Damages for lawsuits involving illnesses such as COVID-19 may include:

  • Hospital and medical bills 
  • Cost of medication and medical equipment 
  • Cost of medical care and/or live-in care 
  • Lost wages and lost capacity to earn
  • Chronic pain
  • Emotional distress or suffering

Contact a Nevada Personal Injury Attorney

It can be difficult proving negligence in cases involving the transmission of illnesses, but every situation is different. In some circumstances, a lawsuit may be the best way to recover financial losses and achieve justice. Contact the Matt Pfau Law Group today to speak to an experienced Personal Injury Attorney who can assess your unique circumstances and help you decide on the best course of action. 

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