Can You Sue If Someone Gives You COVID-19?

The coronavirus is dangerous in all cases. COVID-19 either causes someone severe symptoms that require hospitalization, or it makes someone a carrier who can spread the virus to someone else who might suffer worse symptoms than that carrier. Social distancing, proper mask use, and good hygiene are all crucial steps to slow the deadly virus’s spread.

But there is no guarantee that you will not catch COVID-19 even after taking the proper precautions. You might work with, live with, or encounter someone who has the virus or has not been practicing social distancing, and the virus’s highly contagious nature could mean it spreads to you. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and you are fairly certain you know who gave it to you, can you file a civil claim against them to get damages for your medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and more?

Liability laws will likely offer ample protection to the person who gave you COVID-19 and pursuing a claim against them is probably not an option.

Coronavirus Prevalence & Carrier Intent

A successful injury claim depends on proving that the defendant is liable for the harm suffered by the claimant. With the coronavirus spreading so quickly across the country – there are nearly 6.5 million confirmed cases and more than 190,000 confirmed deaths as of this writing – being able to prove that a single person gave you the virus is essentially impossible. Even if you shook hands with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19, they might not be the person who spread it to you. Forming a convincing connection between them and your diagnosis that can stand up to liability laws and civil court expectations is a challenge for any attorney.

The coronavirus carrier’s intent might also play a role in determining the validity of your claim, and preexisting laws about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) could lay the foundation for that argument. In many states, a plaintiff can only bring a claim against an STD carrier if that person intentionally tried to infect them with their disease or knowingly hide their illness from them before engaging in sexual activities. Such laws could serve as an example for coronavirus cases, meaning you would have to prove that the defendant intentionally tried to expose you to the virus. Since it can be assumed that most pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers are not intentionally trying to give others the virus, you should not expect to be able to bring a claim against them.
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