Our law firm has been flooded with questions people have about the legal realities of the fight against the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes — COVID-19. People want to know if they can sue a person or organization for gross negligence after transmission occurs. For the most part, the answer is no. Others want to know whether or not they can sue a caretaker for placing them in isolation.
The answer to this question is more complicated than the last.
First, it’s important to understand the reasons why people are being asked to lockdown, quarantine, social distance, or self-isolate during the viral outbreak. This is a new situation none of us has ever had to deal with before, and many people aren’t taking it seriously because they don’t understand the severity of the outbreak.
To put it into perspective, there are a few simple facts you should know:
- Reproduction rates help us understand the potential for an infection to move from one person to the next.
- The coronavirus responsible for causing the virus COVID-19 has a much higher reproduction rate than both the seasonal flu and the Spanish flu, which is responsible for causing one of the most widespread and deadliest pandemics in human history.
- Fatality rates provide us with a basic idea of how many people succumb to the disease, but they are very difficult to nail down accurately. It will be a long time before we know the exact fatality rate of COVID-19.
- What we do know is that the fatality rate of COVID-19 is probably between 1 and 3 percent. That makes it far deadlier than the seasonal flu and comparatively deadly to the Spanish flu.
- Fatality percentages don’t provide information about how many people will eventually die from this virus. This is determined by a combination of the fatality percentage and how contagious the virus is, i.e. how many people it will infect.
- Scientists predict that millions could die if governments continue to do little or nothing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
That should give you a pretty good understanding of why you’ve been asked — or forced — into lockdown. Quarantine means healthcare providers know you contracted the virus, and they want to make sure you don’t have the opportunity to infect someone else before you get better.
That means suing a hospital for placing you in quarantine — even if forced — will be a difficult pill for a judge to swallow. However, there is one situation in which you can sue. If you were not infected with the coronavirus but placed in isolation in error or for some other reason, you absolutely have the right to sue and should contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately!