The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a serious health risk to people all over the world, and it has also impacted people’s lifestyles. In addition to many other facets of American life, the outbreak is changing the future of personal injury in several ways.
As the courts throughout the U.S. have shut down and reopened slowly to help curve the spread of the virus, the way court proceedings have taken place has also changed. For example, virtual hearings, teleconferencing, and more are becoming commonplace in this new world.
Apart from the way hearings are conducted, professionals believe the pandemic could also lead to changes in personal injury laws, specifically by raising the legal duty of care standards revolving around negligence.
What is the Legal Duty of Care?
Certain individuals have a duty to practice reasonable care or otherwise act reasonably to avoid preventable injury to others.
A few instances of legal duty of care include:
- Drivers are responsible for adhering to traffic laws and practicing safe driving to avoid accidents
- Doctors and other medical professionals are also responsible for providing reasonable care to prevent injuries or conditions that may arise from any potential negligence
- A grocery store has a duty to clean up a spill before someone falls or properly caution visitors of the hazard
Bar operators have an obligation to safely limit too many people from entering the premises and provide security to visitors
To build a successful personal injury case, a plaintiff will be required to prove that the defendant—which could be anyone from an individual to a corporate entity—failed to perform their duty of care resulting in negligence
Coronavirus and Negligence
A majority of personal injury cases stem from negligence, which occurs when an individual or other party fails to practice reasonable care in certain situations. Negligence can be a factor in how a person contracted the coronavirus or in how their symptoms worsened. There are specific situations in which the coronavirus may possibly influence a case if a person or business failed to prevent exposure to the infection.
1. Medical Malpractice
In some cases, a medical professional’s negligence may expose patients to COVID-19, which could warrant medical malpractice claims. A medical malpractice claim differs from other personal injury claims because of its specific nature pertaining to standards of care. Many malpractice cases require the consultation of industry professionals to help confirm that the defendant practiced negligence. Keep in mind that some states have laws in place that provide immunity to health care providers regarding liability for negligence resulting from exposure to COVID-19.
2. Negligence in Nursing Homes
One of the most vulnerable groups in danger of contracting COVID-19 is the elderly, and nursing homes are areas where the virus has been known to spread quickly among residents. Residents and their families may be able to build a personal injury case against a nursing home if staff failed to take reasonable measures in keeping residents safe from the virus. For instance, unsanitary conditions could develop due to negligence, allowing for the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
3. The Negligence of Cruise Ship Companies
Many people have contracted COVID-19 while on cruises. In possible cases, a cruise ship company may be liable if it didn’t protect passengers from the virus. However, a ban on class actions makes the possibility of certain claims uncertain.
4. Exposure on the Job
If an employee is exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, he or she won’t likely be able to build a personal injury claim, but there may be exceptions. For instance, individuals working in the health care sector look into filing a workers’ compensation claim with the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer in St. Louis.
Do You Have a Case?
While you may not be able to prove that another’s negligence directly led you to contract COVID-19, it may be possible to prove that negligence contributed to your infection or the worsening of symptoms. To prove negligence, you will need the help of a personal injury lawyer in St. Louis. To schedule a consultation and discuss whether you have a case, contact the Law Offices of Patrick O’Brien today and we’ll connect you with a personal injury attorney in St. Louis.