Can You File a Personal Injury Claim for COVID-19?

Need an Attorney right now? You've come to the right place.
By Marcus Fernandez

The spread of the novel coronavirus continues in Florida, as it does throughout the United States, with more than 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 in the Sunshine State. A positive test may leave you wondering, “Can I file a COVID-19 personal injury claim?” The short answer is a qualified “yes,” but it depends on the circumstances. 

A better understanding of the answer requires a closer look at personal injury claims. Let’s take a look at the elements necessary to establish the existence of a claim, how to prove them, and the possible parties against whom a claim can be brought.

Is COVID-19 a personal injury claim?

You may have heard people say that you can sue anyone for just about anything. But what that statement leaves out is this: To be successful and win, you need evidence to prove your claim. Proving that someone infected you with the coronavirus requires evidence. You must be able to prove that another person was negligent in engaging in reckless or reckless behavior. However, that can be complicated with a case of COVID-19.

There are four elements to a personal injury claim based on negligence:

  • Existence of a duty of care: The guilty party, referred to as the “defendant” in the lawsuit, had a duty to act reasonably. For example, a driver has a duty to obey traffic laws and maintain control over the vehicle so as not to harm others. In the context of COVID-19, an affected person’s duty of care is to take reasonable precautions. For example, self-isolate and wear a mask to avoid spreading the disease to others.
  • Breach of duty of care: The defendant acted in a way that he violated the duty of care owed to him. For example, someone who tests positive for COVID-19 and continues to date and mingle with other people after learning of the test results would be in breach of their duty of care. 
  • Causality: The breach of duty causing damage. The evidence supporting a COVID-19 personal injury claim has to prove that the breach of the duty of care caused you to be harmed or, more specifically, infected with the virus.
  • Damage: The damage causing damage. The cost of doctors, medications, and hospitalization can be significant depending on the severity of your illness. 

Causation can be difficult to prove in a COVID-19 claim based on negligence because the virus is so widespread. The evidence has to limit the source of infection to a particular place and a specific person. So, as you can imagine, it is difficult to prove that a person infected you with the virus.

Be aware of the tax fault

Another thing that can come into play when filing a COVID-19 personal injury claim is contributory fault on your part. Florida law requires a judge or jury in personal injury cases to take into consideration the evidence available to the defendant to prove fault on the part of the injured person. For example, if the defendant proves that you did not wear a mask, social distance, and take other reasonable precautions to protect yourself from the virus, damages may be reduced based on your degree of fault in exposing yourself to the risk of infection.

Options for someone considering a COVID-19 claim

People who spread the disease may not be the only option available to you for a compensation claim. Tampa is one of many communities that have imposed rules on businesses to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

An executive order in Tampa requires businesses open to the public to enforce a mask mandate, post masks inside their establishments and require employees to wear masks. So, if a business’s failure to enforce a mask mandate causes you an infection, you may have a claim against the owners and management.

The company that operates a cruise ship was sued by passengers who claimed to have been exposed to the virus. The suit alleged that management knew someone on the ship was showing symptoms consistent with the virus. However, management failed to take steps to minimize the risk of exposure to others on board, according to the lawsuit.

Gather evidence to support your claim

As with any personal injury claim, one based on COVID-19 requires evidence to support it. You can help your case by keeping all records related to medical treatment, prescription medications, and time missed from work.

If your claim is against a business establishment, keep copies of sales receipts to prove you were on the spot. Photographs of conditions inside a business, such as people wandering around without masks, can be helpful in proving your claim.

Consult with a personal injury attorney

If you or a loved one is exposed to the coronavirus, you want answers about your rights. Your best source of information on filing a COVID-19 personal injury claim is a consultation with an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney, such as one of our experienced Kinney, Fernandez & Boire attorneys. Call us or fill out this form for a free case evaluation.