Personal Injury Liability For COVID-19
With the COVID-19 pandemic running rampant across the U.S., it is important to be aware not only of your responsibilities in combating the virus, but also of your rights if you are ever unfortunate enough to be infected due to someone else’s negligence. While most people contract COVID-19 through unknowing exposure to a carrier, the standard of care has changed so fundamentally that a failure to abide by safe procedures like social distancing and wearing masks may lead to lawsuits. While the outcome of such a suit remains to be seen, it is worth investigating its validity.
Negligence and “Reasonable Care”
Personal injury cases are usually brought under a theory of negligence law, and in order to establish negligence, certain criteria have to be established for the court. In Florida, one must show that the defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care toward the plaintiff, and that the defendant failed to do that. One must also establish that the defendant’s actions were the direct cause of their (the plaintiff’s) injuries, with no other intervening cause. If these can be shown to the court’s satisfaction, the plaintiff may recover for their injuries.
Out of these criteria, the one that is provoking the most debate with regard to COVID-19 is defining what “reasonable care” is. In personal injury lawsuits, the word “reasonable” essentially has to be redefined in every case, because no two people’s definition will be quite the same. Also, in recent months, the argument can be made that the “reasonable person” standard has changed fundamentally – before the outbreak of the coronavirus, retail establishments requiring face coverings at all times would have seemed asinine and unnecessary. However, this is the standard now, and the courts will use it to determine a person’s negligence.
If You Sue
If you believe that you have the evidence to argue that you were negligently infected with COVID-19, you can file suit against that person in much the same fashion that you might allege other types of personal injury – however, it is crucial to understand that merely stating you believe you contracted the coronavirus at a business or in someone else’s company is not enough to merit compensation. You must establish that the defendant’s conduct was negligent, meaning that they did not exercise the level of care that they were required to by law.
One wrinkle that has only recently appeared is the issue of businesses asking their customers to sign COVID-19 liability waivers. Assumption of risk, as these businesses are insisting on, is a time-worn defense that many people offer to explain their negligence. Florida law also holds that such waivers are enforceable if their language is “clear, unambiguous, unequivocal, and specific.” However, if a business has reason to believe that there is someone with COVID-19 on their presence, they cannot be shielded from liability – the knowledge (or reason to know) is what matters.
Contact A Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer
It is difficult to know just what will happen with regard to the spread of COVID-19, and the jobs and lives hanging in the balance. If you have been harmed by the negligence of another person during this pandemic, however, you may have the right to seek compensation for what you have been through. The Tampa personal injury lawyers at the Rinaldo Law Group are ready to try and assist you with any questions or concerns you might have. Call us today for a free consultation.