There is much that we do not know about COVID19, but what we do know is that it is highly contagious and can be lethal in some instances. Because the virus is easily transmitted, many “non-essential” businesses have been shut down for the foreseeable future. Some states are even levying fines against “non-essential” businesses that remain open.
What if I contract COVID19 at work?
It is unclear what liability may be imposed against a “non-essential” business that remains open and exposes their employees to COVID19, but contracting the virus at work could implicate workers compensation benefits.
What if I contract COVID19 as a customer?
If you happen to be on the premises of a “non-essential” business as a customer and contract the virus, a premises liability analysis would likely apply.
In a premises liability case, the plaintiff would need to prove “notice,” which means you would need to prove that the property owner knew or had reason to know that there was a hazardous condition on the property. In addition, the injured victim also cannot knowingly expose themselves to the hazardous condition.
First, if the business is “non-essential” and it is still open, there may be liability imposed just because they are violating either a local, state, or federal order that it be closed.
As to notice: even though a business may not have had anyone on the property that they know contracted the virus, there is enough global news coverage on COVID19 that no reasonable business can say that they were not aware of the danger that the virus could pose in their place of business.
But the analysis does not end there. Just like businesses should know of the danger, individuals are also aware of the danger. If they knowingly enter onto the premises of a “non-essential” business, they are assuming the risk that they may contract COVID19.
There is also the challenge of proving where you contracted COVID19. We know that the virus has a two week incubation period before symptoms begin to show, so pinning down exactly where you may have contracted the virus can be a challenge.
Can I file a lawsuit against a “non-essential” business if I contract COVID19?
While you may be able to file a lawsuit against the property for remaining open, there will be a percentage of fault placed on the victim. In Pennsylvania, this is known as comparative negligence.
If you are found to be 51% negligent or greater for your own injury, then you will not be able to recover.
If you enter onto the property of a non-essential business and contract COVID19, I cannot foresee a successful outcome as we are all supposed to be aware of the danger and taking the necessary precautions.
Each state has likely promulgated a list of “essential” businesses, and if it’s not on the list, then the business’s physical location should not be open and you should not be in it.
What should I do if I contract COVID19?
If you or anyone you may have come in contact with has been exposed to COVID19, we recommend that you seek immediate medical treatment and follow all CDC guidelines for quarantine.
Our firm remains open for business during the pandemic, and you are welcome to call to send us a text at (412)-345-1164 at any time for a free consultation. In order to reduce risk of exposure, we can still meet with you remotely. If you are in need, do not wait for months in order to speak with an attorney and seek treatment, as this may affect the value of your claim. We are here for you and can provide responsive, compassionate, and personalized service and representation. Call or text us at any time at (412)-345-1164.