What Are My Legal Rights If I Contract Coronavirus?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from one person to another. It’s been named “SARS-CoV-2,” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019,” abbreviated as “COVID-19.”
The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first found in Wuhan, China. A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that hasn’t been yet identified, and the virus causing Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) isn’t like the coronaviruses that commonly are found among people that can cause mild illness, like the common cold.
The risk of infection with COVID-19 is greater for those who are in close contact with people known to have COVID-19, like healthcare workers, first responders, and household members. Others said to be at higher risk for infection are individuals who live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, like Italy or China. The CDC also says that seniors and those with serious underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes appear to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from the Coronavirus.
Coronavirus by the Numbers
Sadly, the United States now has more confirmed cases of coronavirus that any other country—including China and Italy, where the disease has caused thousands of deaths. The coronavirus is affecting nearly 200 countries and territories around the world.
The U.S. now has more than 85,000 reported cases and over 1,300 deaths. These numbers will be out-of-date as soon as they are published, as the cases continue to increase.
The CDC says that the Coronavirus will spread throughout the world and will most likely infect 40-70% of the global population during its first wave, which may take six months to a year.
Can I Sue if I Get Sick?
You may see stories in the news about personal injury law firms filing class-action lawsuits to make “China pay” for how it has handled the coronavirus crisis, alleging that the country was negligent in their response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Yes, if you or a loved one is sick or passes away from the disease, you may have a claim for damages.
Medical malpractice happens when a hospital, healthcare facility, physician, or other health care professional, by a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence might be the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, or health management. In this pandemic, there may be medical malpractice that causes injury or death to coronavirus patients. This may include a misdiagnosis (where the patient is thought to have some other medical issue); treatment issues (where medical equipment and supplies are not available, or the patient is discharged too soon or given poor care); inadequate aftercare (such as a failure to follow up with the patient); or health management (where the facility itself does not provide proper administration and oversight).
Standard of Care
A critical part of a medical malpractice action is the standard of care that a patient has the right to expect and receive. Health care professionals must provide care that is consistent with community standards. Negligence is proven when a jury finds that the standard of care hasn’t been met. However, the standard of care is determined by what is an acceptable medical treatment by a reasonably prudent doctor or another healthcare provider would give in like or similar circumstances. Since the U.S. has never experienced a pandemic of this magnitude, that standard of care may be hard to define. The court may have specific rules for this unique situation. We’ll have to wait and see.
So, right now, the attorneys and staff at Trentalange & Kelley want you to focus on staying healthy or getting well if you’ve contracted the coronavirus disease.
Remember these directives from the CDC:
- Keep a distance of six feet between you and others.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you’ve been in public or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces.
- Stay home if you’re sick, except to get medical care.
If you have questions about your coronavirus illness and your legal options, please call us at (813) 226-1080 or toll-free at (800) 789-1117.
At Trentalange & Kelley, we focus on cases of medical malpractice. We will be happy to help you with a negligence claim if you are injured from the coronavirus. But right now, the courts are closed in most locations. Like the State of Florida and the entire country, our law firm is concentrating on being safe and getting through this pandemic.