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Could Personal Injury Lawsuits Arise due to Coronavirus?

While typically this post would open up with statistics and facts relating to illnesses and deaths related to coronavirus, the truth is that these numbers are changing by the minute. With such a widespread effect of this virus, many of us want to see someone held responsible for the damage it has caused. Could coronavirus result in personal injury lawsuits from those who fell ill or loved ones who have been left behind? The answer is — like most responses from attorneys — it depends. 

Cruise Ship Victims and Personal Injury Lawsuits

While coronavirus-related lawsuits will come with their own unique issues, both medically and legally, all personal injury cases boil down to the same elements that must be proven by the injured party:

  • The plaintiff suffered a physical, emotional, or financial harm;
  • The plaintiff’s harm was the result of another’s (defendant) action, or inaction;
  • The defendant(s) owed a duty to the plaintiff to behave differently;
  • The plaintiff’s injury resulted in damages.

Thousands of people were trapped on cruise ships when the coronavirus became a global pandemic. While not every passenger contracted the virus and fell ill, every single cruise ship passenger was massively inconvenienced. There is still not sufficient information regarding how many were infected, how many became sick, and how many passed away — on and off cruise ships.

If personal injury lawsuits against cruise ship companies and/or their employees are filed as a result of coronavirus, the results of this litigation will be dependent upon the ability of the victims and their lawyers to establish that harm occurred and that the defendants caused the harm. This will surely require an investigation as to whether or not the cruise lines did everything reasonably possible to protect their passengers from injury, and prevent the spread of infection from the virus. 

After Coronavirus Infection: Personal Injury Lawsuits

Because the world has changed so much in the past couple of months, and because we do not know if or when all will return to normal, employers are grappling with how to keep businesses running. As a result, many business owners are asking if an employee could file a personal injury claim against the company if they become infected with coronavirus while at work. Similarly, grocers, restaurants, and other retailers are wondering if a customer could hold the company liable if they become sick or exposed to the virus after patronizing the business. Again, a plaintiff would have to establish that an injury occurred, that the injury was the result of the defendant’s negligence, that the injury caused harm, and that the harm resulted in damages. That might be tough to do in the context of this virus.

Tips for Businesses

According to the Harvard Business Review, business owners can help reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid legal issues by the follow the tips below:

  • Discuss hygiene instead of assuming everyone knows the proper way to wash their hands;
  • Provide access to handwashing stations; 
  • Keep employees informed by getting information from reliable and credible resources, like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Doing so will also protect your company from allegations that your processes regarding infection control are unsafe.
  • Take steps to keep your workers safe, since the Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA) imposes a general duty on employers to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm, like coronavirus. 

When to Call a Personal Injury Attorney

If you became sick or injured because of someone else’s negligence, Matt Pfau Law Group is here to help. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.

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