These devastating times are uncharted. The coronavirus, as of the writing of this article, has claimed the lives of thousands in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and over 23,000 throughout the United States. Our deepest sympathy and condolences go out to all of the families and relatives who have suffered these terrible losses. And still, almost 100,000 of our fellow New Jersey and Pennsylvanians are infected, not knowing what the results will be. We extend our prayers and hopes to all of them for a speedy complete recovery. Sadly, the numbers of coronavirus deaths and infected continue to grow. It is important for everyone to know their rights with respect to the coronavirus during these trying times.
Death Benefits for Survivors of 1st Responders:
The spouse and surviving members of a first responder’s family will be entitled to recover death benefits under the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Act because the decedent is presumed to have incurred increased risks of airborne diseases while working during these dangerous times. A recent New Jersey Law raises a presumption that the infection was caused by the first responder’s job. This class of first Responders includes healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, EMTs, technicians, other medical professionals, policemen, firemen, ambulance attendants, and others required by their job to be face to face with coronavirus victims. Workers Compensation Death Benefits are available for the first responder’s surviving spouse and family members. They differ slightly from New Jersey to Pennsylvania and are explained more fully in our website’s Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions section. Wrongful Death Benefits in the civil courts will also be available, depending on the circumstances, when it can be shown that the decedent’s coronavirus infection and death was caused by the negligence of a third party, other than his or her employer. This is a developing area of the law and is laced with new legislative immunities and will be determined on a case by case basis, depending on the specific facts and circumstances of each case. Contact our office as soon as possible as immediate and extensive investigation should be made to save evidence and establish the facts needed to prove the decedent’s case. Our office is staffed with attorneys who are experienced in both Workman’s Compensation and Negligence cases. Call us as soon as you can at 856-283-0589 or email us at Contactus@ciecka.com. We are ready 24/7 to assist you immediately in your time of need.
Can I Sue for Negligence or Wrongful Death Due to the Coronavirus?
Yes. The coronavirus pandemic has infected many individuals and has claimed many lives in the United States. A coronavirus lawsuit or a coronavirus class action may include causes of actions for wrongful death or negligence in exposing individuals to the virus. So, the questions become: “What happens if someone gave you the coronavirus?” and “Do I have a lawsuit if I am infected with coronavirus?” Depending on the circumstances, a coronavirus lawsuit based on a defendant’s negligence could be initiated. This crisis has resulted in an evolving legal area where new laws are being passed by our governing bodies that raise legal presumptions and immunities that will determine if a suit should be filed. The specific facts of each case and these new laws will determine the success of each suit. Our attorneys will stay on top of the developments of this new and rapidly developing area of law to advise you on the best course of action to take. Contact The Ciecka Firm to speak with an attorney who can analyze your case, inform you of your legal rights, and help you pursue a coronavirus lawsuit. Call us as soon as you can at 856-665-5709 or email us at Contactus@ciecka.com. We are ready 24/7 to assist you immediately in your time of need
Many business entities and organizations may find themselves on the opposite end of a coronavirus lawsuit. These may include hospitals, restaurants, day care centers, nursing homes, and hotels. Most likely as more people become infected with the virus, there may be a floodgate of litigation against businesses involving coronavirus exposure and infections.
Can I Sue Someone for Exposing Me to the Coronavirus?
A civil lawsuit can be filed against a person or entity for spreading a contagious illness if the person was negligent or failed to meet the applicable standard of care under the circumstances. The person or entity must have breached a legal duty. Civil tort law imposes duties on individuals and businesses to conduct themselves according to appropriate safety standards set by society. Civil tort law is different from criminal law. In civil tort law, a criminal offense does not have to be committed. Instead, a person is held liable for damages done to a person out of malice or negligence. Negligence occurs when a person breaches their duty to act careful. The elements of negligence include: (1) duty of care, (2) breach of the duty, (3) causation, (4) and damages. The breach must have been the legal proximate cause of the harm and damages.
Firstly, there must be an applicable legal duty imposed on the defendant individual or business to act in a safe manner under the circumstances. The coronavirus is something new to our society and the law is developing on what standards of care must be followed.
At our firm, we have qualified and experienced attorneys to help establish that the defendant had a duty to act safely and failed to act accordingly, which then resulted in damages. These elements must be proven by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the defendant was responsible for an injury. That is, based on the facts it must be shown to the jury that the defendant was more-likely-than-not responsible for the injury. Contact the Ciecka Firm to speak with an attorney who can analyze your case, inform you of your legal rights, and help you pursue a coronavirus lawsuit. Call us as soon as you can at 856-283-0589 or email us at Contactus@ciecka.com. We are ready 24/7 to assist you immediately in your time of need
How Can I Prove That Someone Caused Me to Be Infected With the Coronavirus?
Causation is an element that must be established for a defendant to be liable for negligence. The infection must have been caused by the defendant’s wrongful conduct. The harm must be the legal proximate cause of the defendant’s breach of their duty of care. In regard to coronavirus infections, this will be the most difficult hurdle to overcome. There are many possible “superseding” acts that may have potentially caused the infection. For example, the infection could have been caused by being exposed to someone who is not showing symptoms, by someone who merely coughs without covering their mouth, or by the virus being in the air around you. The coronavirus is invisible which makes proving legal liability difficult. Experts such as Epidemiologists, Infectious Disease Specialists, and other doctors and scientists will be needed, depending on the new laws that are being promulgated.
However, arguments can be made that “it was more likely than not” based on the evidence that the defendant’s failure to be safe, exposed you to the virus and caused the infection. For example, if the defendant is an employer and requires you to work in a job position that forces you to come into contact with people who have the virus and that employer fails to satisfy safety standards, then there may be civil tort liability. Another hypothetical example may include if an individual knows that they are infected and contagious, and has been ordered to quarantine themselves, but still exposes you to the virus. This type of situation may result in civil liability and possible punitive damages for the grossly negligent and malicious conduct.
What Monetary Damages Can I Recover for Being Infected By the Coronavirus?
The fourth element of a negligence cause of action is damages. The damages include the losses and harms that result from an injury or illness. These generally include, pain, suffering, emotional distress, medical bill cost, loss of wages, loss of enjoyment of life, temporary disability, permanent injuries, and permanent disabilities.
Regarding the coronavirus, the harm to someone who is infected and recovers from the virus is still being determined. The harm in this type of case would include the temporary loss of time from work and the temporary pain and suffering related to the infection. Although the threat of the coronavirus is very substantial including death, the actual damages for one who survives the infection is still being determined. It may or may not be substantial – objectively speaking. Many people who become infected are being forced to quarantine for 14 days or more. Many people are fortunately recovering from the illness. It has been reported that most infections do not result in serious illness. Some people may not even suffer any symptoms at all. Others have alleged permanent damage to their lungs, hearts, and breathing. Time, tests, studies, and experts’ opinions will be needed to prove the extent of permanent impairment and damage.
All of these factors must be considered to prove substantial damages from the coronavirus that could be compensated for in a jury trial with a monetary award or settlement. Simply put, you are not likely to have a successful lawsuit involving a coronavirus infection if you only missed a few days from work and experienced flu-like symptoms. The values of personal injury cases mostly hinge on the proofs of permanent injuries, disfigurement, and disabilities.
Still, there is a very large number of people who may suffer long-term injuries and unfortunately, may even die due to the coronavirus. Our office attorneys should be contacted as soon as possible so we can immediately investigate and tie the facts down to establish a successful case. Contact The Ciecka Firm to speak with an attorney who can analyze your case, inform you of your legal rights, and help you pursue a coronavirus lawsuit. Call us as soon as you can at 856-283-0589 or email us at Contactus@ciecka.com. We are ready 24/7 to assist you immediately in your time of need
Can I Sue for Wrongful Death Due to a Coronavirus Infection?
Yes. Wrongful death cases are also civil lawsuits that may be pursued if you have a family member who died from the coronavirus. In order to succeed in a wrongful death action, the same elements as negligence must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Again, the major legal hurdle in proving this type of case will be establishing the element of causation. As a hypothetical example, a facility or business may be held liable for the death of their customer due to coronavirus if it did not engage in proper cleaning or quarantine methods. Contact The Ciecka Firm to speak with an attorney who can analyze your case, inform you of your legal rights, and help you pursue a coronavirus lawsuit. Call us as soon as you can at 856-283-0589 or email us at Contactus@ciecka.com. We are ready 24/7 to assist you immediately in your time of need
What if a Business Withheld Information or Misled Customers About the Possible Exposure to the Coronavirus?
If you believe that an entity withheld information or misled customers, then there is a possibility of a lawsuit. An example of a case already filed includes the Princess Cruise Lines withholding information from passengers. Claimants in Florida are stating that Princess Cruise Lines was aware of the outbreak on their cruise lines. The lawsuit states that the company decided to continue with business even with “knowing that the ship was infected from two previous passengers who came down with symptoms of COVID-19, and had 62 passengers on board.” The lawsuit claims that a previous voyage by the same cruise ship had alerted passengers of the exposure to COVID-19 but that during and before their respective cruise, this information was not disseminated or told to them. This prevented them from choosing not to encounter a known risk of being infected with the deadly COVID-19 virus during this voyage.
Can I Sue A Hospital, Or Nursing Home for a Coronavirus Infection?
There are several measures that need to be accounted for before determining if a person can sue an institution for the coronavirus. For example: Did the institution take “all reasonable measures” in order to prevent exposure to the virus? An example of this would be a failure to prepare for the containment of an infectious disease in a nursing home. “Reasonable measures” may include: Frequent disinfection of surfaces, objects, and appliances; Providing gloves, masks, and hand-sanitizers to the staff as well as patients or patrons; Isolating staff and residents who have the coronavirus; Complying with regulations set out by the CDC and other federal agencies; Did the person who contracted the virus suffer any life-changing injuries? Did the hospital or nursing home make their visitors, customers, or patients sign a contract that waives the person’s rights to file lawsuit? Is there an arbitration clause? An ongoing issue will be the nursing home’s responsibility if a nursing home patient incurs a bedsore during this time.
March 9, 2020 Retroactive New Jersey Immunity Law (passed April 14, 2020)
The effect of this new law must be determined, “An act providing immunity from liability for certain claims alleging injury or death during public health emergency and state of emergency and facilitating issuance of temporary licenses and certifications. Applicable to any health care facility and any other site designated by the Commissioner of Health for temporary use for the purpose of providing essential services in support of the State’s response to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease during the public health emergency and state of emergency declared by the Governor in Executive 17 Order 103 of March 9, 2020.“
Will Having a “Compromised” Immune System Be a Defense to a Coronavirus Lawsuit?
The coronavirus has a more serious impact on the health of an individual who is said to have a “compromised” immune system, such as those people who have pre-existing respiratory conditions or immune-deficiency conditions. Furthermore, a person’s age, demographic, and health condition all impact their probability of contracting the virus and their ability to recover from it. Older individuals, as well as those with pre-existing health concerns, have a higher mortality rate. The fact that an individual may be more susceptible to being impacted by a coronavirus infection is not a defense to liability. The “Eggshell Skull Rule” is a legal theory that states that a defendant is liable for all unforeseen and uncommon reactions to the defendant’s negligent or intentional acts as result of the plaintiff being more susceptible to being “broken” or harmed.
The law follows that: “You take your plaintiff as you find them”. If the plaintiff is more likely to be harmed by the virus, the liable party is still fully responsible for that harm. The victim’s weakened condition or compromised immune system does not render a valid legal defense.
Is the Coronavirus Considered an “Act of God” That Will Be a Defense to a Coronavirus Lawsuit?
“Acts of God” are determined as: “An extraordinary interruption by a natural cause (such as a flood or earthquake) of the usual course of events that experience, prescience, or care cannot reasonably foresee or prevent”.
“Acts of God” are important because it can limit a business entity’s legal liability during an event out of their control. However, the defendant may still be liable on the basis that it was aware of an issue and did not properly disclose that information to people who may be at risk. In other words, the applicability of an “Act of God” defense will be determined according to the preventative measures taken by the business entity such as hygienic negligence or proper disclosure of information.
A Coronavirus Lawsuit Will Be a “Case of First Impression”
The coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis that we never have seen before. There will be many lawsuits filed concerning the coronavirus. These will be cases of first impression to be heard in our civil court system. Because this pandemic has never happened before, it is hard to conclude what will happen in the future and what type of coronavirus lawsuit and coronavirus class action will be accepted or denied by the courts. While many cases rely on precedent set by prior case decisions, this novel and new situation is hard to compare to previous court cases. In a case of first impression, the exact issue has never been addressed by the court; therefore, there is no binding authority on that specific issue. As such, it is best to discuss the specific facts of your case with an experienced attorney. Contact The Ciecka Firm to speak with an attorney who can analyze your case, inform you of your legal rights, and help you pursue a coronavirus lawsuit. Call us as soon as you can at 856-283-0589 or email us at Contactus@ciecka.com. We are ready 24/7 to assist you immediately in your time of need.
Thank you for coming to our website. You can depend on us. The Frequently Asked Questions section of our website further details the legal rights and remedies of those that are infected with the coronavirus. Contact The Ciecka Firm to speak with an attorney who can analyze your case, inform you of your legal rights, and help you pursue a coronavirus lawsuit. Call us as soon as you can at 856-283-0589 or email us at Contactus@ciecka.com. We are ready 24/7 to assist you immediately in your time of need.