Potential Liability For “COVID Parties”
One of the more unfortunate trends that has been happening in Florida recently is the phenomenon of “COVID parties.” While these have been happening primarily on university campuses and nightclubs, there has been a pattern of large gatherings in central and southern Florida in general, ostensibly designed for asymptomatic people to transmit the COVID-19 virus among themselves. If someone does get COVID-19 at one of these parties, however, a person or people at the party might find themselves liable. The jurisprudence is unsettled as of this writing, but it is worth exploring.
The most recent available data from the Florida Health Department shows that by far the highest percentage of new COVID-19 cases – roughly 29 percent of new infections in Palm Beach County, for example – are in those aged 15 to 24 years old. The next highest age group was those aged 45 to 54 years old, with 15 percent of new cases. COVID parties are not the only reason for the higher rate among young people – many blame premature opening of the state’s schools, among other factors – but social media has documented quite a few gatherings, where people are packed very closely and masks are not being worn.
Even with masks, some smaller gatherings are becoming suspect, due to an inability to distance socially. For example, students in university residence halls very often have only limited space to interact. This is the same principle at play in bars and nightclubs, where crowds may be smaller than in large lecture halls, but the lack of social distancing sharply increases the likelihood that COVID-19 will be transmitted. Yet no real jurisprudence on liability exists yet – the question of who is liable for potential COVID transmission in these cases must be tested in the courts.
Knowledge Is The Key
While most people would write off “COVID gatherings” as adults making poor choices, in reality, there are wider implications. Given the potentially deadly consequences of contracting COVID-19, it is possible in some situations that a person might be found civilly liable (or even criminally responsible) for knowingly transmitting the virus to other people. The key word in determining whether transmission is actionable or not is knowingly – one cannot be held responsible, either criminally or civilly, for an unforeseeable transmission of the virus.
If one knowingly transmits the virus, as one would (in theory) be doing at a “COVID party,” there is reason to believe that they may wind up facing charges. There is precedent for charging people who knowingly or recklessly spread diseases with crimes – for example, in Florida, criminal transmission of HIV/AIDS is a third-degree felony – and they would likely face a civil suit for personal injury as well. If you can establish that the person or people in question owed you a duty to exercise reasonable care, and that they failed to do so, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills and other damages.
Contact A Tampa Personal Injury Attorney
The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted long enough for some people to reach a point where they are willing to risk their health for a return to normalcy, but this attitude conveniently ignores the risk to other people. If you believe that you may have been infected with COVID-19 due to another person’s negligence, contacting an attorney to understand your options is a crucial first step. The Tampa personal injury attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group can try to assist you and get your questions answered. Call our office today for a free consultation.