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The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States keeps rising, thanks mainly to testing, but thankfully less than 10% of those infected have serious complications or die.
Most of the deaths have occurred in the elderly demographic.
Though much has thankfully been done to slow the spread, and permit health professionals to ready themselves for combat, the virus still remains a threat.
Last week we got a call from a woman who took her husband to the hospital for an unrelated emergency, but they tested him for COVID19 anyway and he tested negative.
A week later he started having a terrible time breathing, and when she took him back to the hospital he tested positive.
The doctors said he likely was exposed the first time when she brought him to the hospital. Why? Because hospital staff, it turns out, who were present on the first visit knew they were infected and exhibiting symptoms, and did not take proper precautions to prevent the spread of the infection to others.
So back to the key question, can you sue over getting a COVID19 infection?
To answer that question, you have to look at whether “reasonable measures” were taken to prevent exposure.
And examine what if any protocols were put in place to handle such a virus (or the contingency of being exposed to a new previously undocumented illness).
But what would the law consider to be reasonable measures? And, what protocols should a medical facility (like a hospital or nursing home) have in place to handle an infectious disease?
As time progresses, a clear standard within the medical community will develop to properly limit the spread of the virus. Once that standard is set, operating below that standard will expose the medical professionals to liability.
The law likely will be hard pressed to hold the first couple of medical facilities legally responsible for a patient contracting the illness. Think of it much like giving a dog owner the benefit of the doubt if their dog has never bitten anyone before, but once that dog has a first bite, the law will impose on the dog owner, a legal duty to contain the dog and protect people from that second bite.
As the medical community establishes clear protocols to contain the virus, if those protocols aren’t followed (in other words the facility does not use reasonable care), then facilities ignoring containment requirements are going to end up on the wrong side of a lawsuit.
The question shouldn’t be if you can sue over coronavirus infection or death, but if you can win a lawsuit.
To learn more about the Law Offices Of David W Holub visit https://davidholublaw.com today.
To read David Holub's book "Fighting For Truth: A Trial Lawyer's Insight Into What It Takes To Win" visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1732468206/