Could People File Personal Injury Lawsuits for COVID-19?

The novel coronavirus is responsible for more than 55,258 U.S. deaths as of April 28. These are only recorded deaths. It is not possible to determine whether the death toll is higher without additional widespread testing.

While the deadly virus continues to spread throughout the country, some businesses are already facing lawsuits for infections. Walmart was recently sued by the estate of a worker who died from COVID-19. COVID-19 is the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. According to the lawsuit, a Chicago-area Walmart failed to notify its staff after several workers began showing symptoms.

The cruise company Carnival Corp. is also facing personal injury lawsuits due to coronavirus infections. Infected passengers and their family members sued the cruise company, alleging it did not do enough to prevent the infections.

More lawsuits against businesses and individuals are likely to occur during and after the pandemic.

Personal Injury Lawsuits for COVID-19

The current pandemic is uncharted territory for businesses and personal injury lawyers. Whether someone could file a lawsuit for contracting the disease depends on the circumstances. State and federal law as well as many other factors could come into play.

Can Customers Sue for COVID-19?

Infected customers may run into trouble while seeking compensation against a business. One hurdle that some potential plaintiffs could face is whether they can prove a person or business is responsible for their infection. Given the long incubation period for SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus) and its likely high R0 value (a metric that measures contagiousness), some people may run into problems while trying to demonstrate causality.

This does not mean that it is impossible to file a personal injury lawsuit against a business after developing COVID-19. It does mean it could be more difficult than filing a personal injury lawsuit for other reasons, such as a car accident. Causation is more clear in a car accident lawsuit. You generally know who caused the accident. This is not necessarily the case for a lawsuit involving COVID-19.

If a person can prove that a business owed them a duty of care, that duty of care was violated, and the person suffered infection and damages as a direct result, then it might be possible to file a claim.

Truck Accident Lawsuits During the Pandemic

The Department of Transportation recently relaxed hours of service rules for commercial drivers hauling basic consumer goods and items for relief efforts. Hours of service rules stipulate how long drivers can operate before taking a mandatory rest break. Although there are fewer cars and trucks on the road, relaxed hours of service rules could increase the risk of truck accidents. Fatigued driving is a cause of truck accidents in Texas and across the nation.

Depending on the circumstances, it could be possible to hold a trucking company or additional parties liable for damages suffered during an accident. The same is true of car accidents.

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