Nationwide Wrongful Death Cases Brought Over COVID-19 Deaths
As the number of COVID-19 cases slowly decreases across the United States, some of those who have lived through the pandemic are seeking legal action. In several states, wrongful death cases have been filed against cities and other governmental entities, and against private companies, alleging that a failure to abide by appropriate safety protocols led to the deaths of their loved ones. Florida’s legal picture is somewhat unsettled as to the issue of COVID-19 liability, but so far it is not stopping people from seeking redress.
Many May Not Prevail
A successful wrongful death claim hinges on being able to establish that if not for the negligence or misconduct of one person, another person would not have died – the cause of action ‘survives’ the deceased person, so to speak. For example, if you lose a loved one in an auto accident, and it is established that the other driver was operating their vehicle negligently, they might be liable for the death because without their negligent driving, there is no guarantee that your loved one would not have survived.
That said, this chain of events is much more difficult to establish with a condition like COVID-19, particularly if one is trying to hold an employer liable. In order to establish an employer’s liability for a worker catching COVID-19, one would have to show conclusively that they contracted the coronavirus at work. If they contracted the virus at, say, a friend’s house, any negligence on the part of the employer may still exist – but it could not possibly be proven to have played any role in the worker’s getting sick or not.
Standard In Florida Is High
Cases involving wrongful death claims over alleged breaches of duty to protect employees have been filed in many states, from Pennsylvania to Texas to Illinois. A handful of suits were filed in Florida in 2020, but as of this writing, none are currently active in court, with some of them having been dismissed due to technicalities, and some of them dropped by the plaintiffs, including a proposed class action suit by passengers of the Coral Princess (one of the first cruise ships to experience a COVID-19 outbreak in 2020). It is simply not easy to establish a causal link between alleged safety protocol breaches and specific conditions of COVID-19.
In Florida specifically, the legislature also has established an extremely high standard and very narrow time window in which to file COVID-19 related claims against employers. An injured employee must make an extremely specific plea, and must also produce an affidavit from a physician stating that their injuries were directly linked to the defendant’s alleged safety violations. In addition, there must be a showing that the defendant did not make a good-faith effort to comply with pandemic protocols – if the defendant tried to comply, even in a half-hearted way, they may wind up absolved of all civil liability.
Contact A Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing a loved one is something that can be difficult to recover from, and it is a natural response to try and get some kind of closure from those you believe responsible. However, it is sometimes difficult to make the law work for you. The Tampa wrongful death attorneys from the Rinaldo Law Group can offer compassionate and knowledgeable representation during this difficult time for you and your family. Call our offices today for a free consultation.