COVID-19: Can You Sue Someone For Getting You Sick?
With cancellations, delays, and debates about proper handwashing techniques all over the news, it’s hard to avoid hearing about the current coronavirus outbreak! Here is what you need to know about coronavirus, your health, and what legal options you have if someone gets you sick.
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can be found in humans and animals. They can cause a wide range of respiratory issues, ranging from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory System (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The current problem-causing strain, COVID-19, causes flu-like symptoms, including:
- Dry cough
The symptoms usually take some time to fully manifest and some people might not even know they are infected. This makes COVID-19 particularly dangerous, as people may unknowingly spread it to others before realizing they are sick. While many people can fully recover from COVID-19, it can be fatal for the elderly, children, or people with compromised immune systems, like those with lung conditions.
Like the flu, COVID-19 can be prevented through proper hygiene, like hand-washing or covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. However, if a vaccine is developed, it will likely draw some controversy, much like current vaccinations for the flu, measles, and other preventable diseases do.
Some religions, including Christian Scientists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, oppose vaccination, although most major religions do not take an explicit stance on vaccination. Others worry about the potentially harmful effects of vaccines, particularly citing the link between autism and certain ingredients in vaccines, including the flu vaccine.
Since many people do oppose vaccines for religious or health reasons, liability and legal issues can arise during flu season. In particular, people opposed to vaccination may have legal concerns about mandatory vaccination in the workplace, while people who favor vaccinations wonder if an unvaccinated person can be held responsible for the spread of illness.
When it comes to mandatory vaccinations, a lot depends on the workplace. In certain industries, particularly healthcare, preventing the spread of illness is vital. Since healthcare workers are constantly around people with vulnerable immune systems, mandatory vaccination is becoming more common. Generally, however, an employee can request exemption from a mandatory vaccination without the risk of firing or discipline, if they can confirm that religious or health concerns prevent them from getting the vaccine. Employees who choose not to get a vaccine may be asked to take other measures, like wearing a mask.
For other people, the fear of contracting a disease from a non-vaccinated person is just as scary as the idea of getting vaccination against your will. This particularly affects people who cannot get vaccinated for health reasons and children too young to receive vaccines. Because they cannot get their own vaccination, they rely on others to not spread illness like COVID-19. Arguably, preventing disease is a reasonable action, which means that people who do not vaccinate are making a negligent decision. This means that, although no major cases have occurred, someone could technically sue another person for negligence over a lack of vaccinations.
Doing Your Part
No matter how you feel about vaccinations, most people can agree that getting sickis a terrible thing! Aside from vaccinations, other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses include:
- Staying home from work, school, and other activities when ill
- Keeping your hands clean
- Avoiding touching your nose and mouth
- Drinking plenty of water, staying well-rested, and avoiding stress
If everyone takes these steps, we can reduce COVID-19 dangers and protect not only ourselves, but the vulnerable members of our community who need it the most!
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.