Can Coronavirus Victims Sue for Injuries in Pennsylvania?

The current considerations regarding liability claims amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continue to be a growing concern for individuals and corporations. If someone falls ill and has a positive diagnosis of coronavirus, does it follow that there is a personal injury case to pursue?

The answer is it is possible but very unlikely.

Is Spreading Coronavirus considered Negligence?

In a liability case, also known as negligence, a personal injury victim must prove four things:

  • Duty (to do something or not to do something)
  • Standard of Care ( how a reasonable person would act) and breach of that Standard of Care
  • Causation
  • Damages

So, in a typical case, like a car accident case, it’s pretty easy to see how these standards play out. The driver of a car has a duty to drive safely, determined by the rules of the road in the state where the accident occurred, and any injuries have to be caused by the collision. If the at-fault driver breaches those for standards, there is a negligence case, so long as the accident victim is injured.

What is considered “Causation” in a Coronavirus Case?

In a coronavirus case, causation would be the break in the link of the chain to prove a negligence case. A property owner clearly has a duty to keep his or her property safe, clean, etc. That duty is determined by the “standard of care, what common sense tells us should be done. Even if the injuries are minimal (ie: quick recovery from coronavirus), it would be difficult to prove that any particular venue was the cause of contracting the virus. In a more serious injury case involving death, and a direct link to the location of the contraction of the disease, a negligence case would be possible.

What liabilities arise as a result of the Coronavirus Outbreak?

There are certainly other types of liabilities that will arise as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Below are just a few examples:

  • Employers that have employees working in locations known to be hotbeds of exposure (workers compensation claim)
  • Business revenues decreases/bankruptcies due to coronavirus (possible business interruption claims)
  • Vendors in close proximity with those that have contracted the disease (workers compensation claim)

There has been one case brought so far when victims departed from the Princess cruise ship but the damages were for emotional distress which are low-value cases particularly in Pennsylvania.

We will see in the next months what kinds of claims are brought due to this new disease outbreak.

To discuss your specific coronavirus legal issues, Contact Carpey Law.