Based on how the novel coronavirus COVID-19 quickly spread across the globe and impacted governments, businesses, and individual lives, you can probably expect that the ensuing litigation would be rampant. Many lawsuits involve shareholders who claim wrongdoing by corporations, policyholders alleging bad faith insurance, and false claims that defraud the government.
However, there are many other COVID-19 cases related to the ailments and losses that directly affect victims of the virus. Though it’s a worldwide crisis of epic proportions, some of the key legal issues boil down to traditional personal injury concepts. You should discuss your situation with a New York personal injury lawyer if you suffered harm, but it’s also important to understand the legal basis of cases already filed in connection with COVID-19.
Claims Against Cruise Operators: Several individuals have filed negligence lawsuits against cruise lines, one of which alleges that the operator didn’t take proper precautions to notify passengers that there were others aboard that tested positive for coronavirus. A Business Insider article notes that the plaintiffs in that case were stranded aboard the vessel while sick passengers were transported off by helicopters, and suffered extreme trauma because of the fear of infection.
Another lawsuit claims that cruise operators were unreasonably careless with respect to safety measures once the ship was quarantined. Though company officials knew of the dangers of COVID-19 exposure, they didn’t properly clean and sanitize the vessel.
Litigation Pending in China: Multiple parties have also filed suit against China, alleging that governmental authorities didn’t take appropriate action to secure the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Plaintiffs also claim that China skewed reports on the number of cases and didn’t alert the rest of the world about COVID-19. Legal analysts note that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) may present challenges with the litigation going forward, since other nations cannot be sued for most forms of wrongdoing. However, FSIA does provide exceptions where the foreign nation carries on commercial activity connected to US interests.
Negligence in Assisted Living Centers: A nursing home is being sued for misconduct in relation to several dozen confirmed COVID-19 infections and 23 deaths; other lawsuits for nursing home neglect are expected in the coming months. Assisted living centers have a legal duty to provide proper care to residents and exposing them to coronavirus could constitute a breach of this duty. Some of these cases could run into hurdles with causation, an essential element in a negligence case. Because many of the victims were elderly and suffering from other medical conditions, it may be difficult to prove that death was directly caused by exposure to COVID-19.
Cases Based Upon Premises Liability: Property owners are required to keep their spaces free from reasonably foreseeable hazards. This duty extends to those in control over apartment buildings, office complexes, and other structures. Victims who contracted COVID-19 allege that commercial property owners failed in their legal obligations by:
- Not cleaning and sanitizing common areas;
- Closing certain common areas, such as pools, fitness centers, and cafeterias; and,
- Failing to restrict access by unauthorized individuals.
Speak to a New York Personal Injury Attorney About Your Legal Options
COVID-19 lawsuits are certainly an emerging area of law, but cases are already proceeding in courtrooms across the US. If you suffered losses related to any of the above concepts of liability, please contact The Mandel Law Firm to discuss your legal remedies. You can schedule a consultation by calling our Manhattan office at (646) 770-3868 or reaching out to us via our website. We can explain the basics of these cases and advise you on your options after reviewing your circumstances.