The COVID-19 pandemic has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of illnesses as well as months of uncertainty, anxiety, and worry for most. Social distancing, proper mask use, and good hygiene are all crucial steps to slow the deadly virus’s spread. But what happens when you interact with someone who is carrying the virus and not practicing social distancing or wearing a mask? Can you sue someone for giving you COVID-19?
The short answer: it depends. Most of the time, liability laws will likely offer ample protection to the individual person who gave you COVID-19, and pursuing a claim against them is probably not an option. However, if you contracted COVID-19 while at work, the answer may be different. The Governor of New Jersey recently signed a law stating that essential workers in New Jersey who contract the coronavirus may be eligible for workers’ compensation without having to prove how and where they contracted the virus.
Proving How You Were Infected
Typically, a personal injury claim depends on proving that the defendant is liable for the injury suffered by the plaintiff. Because of the prevalence of the virus, proving that a single person gave you the virus can be extraordinarily difficult. Even if you touched someone who later tested positive for COVID-19, they might not be the person who spread it to you. Creating the connection and causation between that person and your diagnosis in a court of law is a challenge. It's possible that the intent of the COVID-19 carrier plays a role in determining the validity of your claim. For instance, if you believe someone intentionally spread coronavirus to you, you may have a claim based on existing case law for the intentional spreading of STDs.
Workers Compensation for COVID-19
What if you were infected with coronavirus while at work? It’s possible you may be eligible for workers’ compensation, especially if you are considered an essential employee. For most types of workers compensation claims, the worker must prove that the injury or illness was directly related to the job. This generally hasn’t applied to widespread illnesses like the cold or flu, but COVID-19 is clearly different. States are taking action to extend workers’ compensation coverage to include first responders and health care workers impacted by COVID-19. New Jersey’s new law presumes the essential employee’s COVID-19 illness is related to work. The employer would need to prove, with a preponderance of evidence, that the employee did NOT contract the virus at work.
For many New Jersey essential employees who were sick with COVID-19, this new law could help them recover lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses. At Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, we offer a free consultation. One of our trusted team members will listen to your story, learn about your case, and can advise you next steps. Many of our clients feel a sense of relief once they make that first phone call. Get in touch today or call us at 201-514-6351.