The entire world has felt the tragic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. With over 3500 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, and over 600 deaths, Arizona has been no exception. And now with Governor Ducey allowing stay at home orders to expire later this week, all seemingly non-essential businesses will be invited to reopen. But what does that mean for the personal injury cases in Arizona, and what types of claims can be asserted? The Phoenix personal injury lawyers at Enara Law PLLC are working remotely during these difficult times, and are here to help you with your COVID-19 related claims.
When thinking of common personal injury claims, contracting an infectious disease like the novel coronavirus doesn’t come top of mind. While most personal injuries are premised on a party’s negligence leading to the injury of another, it can be difficult to assign negligence related to transmission of a virus. However, with the help of a personal injury attorney, it is possible to recover for injuries when you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 due to the negligence of another.
One of the most tragic venues where the coronavirus has run rampant are nursing homes. With a high concentration of elderly individuals and associated medical workers, over 35 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the US have been nursing home residents or workers. Unfortunately, due to efforts to protect the interests of nursing homes from opening the floodgates of litigation, now 15 states, including Arizona have granted immunity to nursing facilities from COVID19 lawsuits. While all states immunity limitations vary, most of these states are shielding nursing facilities from liability for negligence claims related to coronavirus transmission. This may seem discouraging to someone who’s been injured, or has had to deal with the death of a loved one. However, it is important to note, that these immunity grants do not protect nursing facilities from intentional misconduct, gross negligence, or medical malpractice.
Once someone has contracted the coronavirus and has become symptomatic, they have no choice but to seek medical treatment. But with such an exponential growth in the number of cases, and the emergency need for treatment, mistakes are bound to happen. With the mass confusion and need for organized medical response, many patients may have been negligently exposed to COVID-19 due to the lack of organization of medical staff and hospitals. A simple example can be someone being treated at a hospital for a simple flu or bone fracture, being treated in an area that has been exposed to coronavirus, in a room with another patient who unknowingly has the virus, or by medical staff that have previously treated the virus without proper precautions taken. A medical malpractice attorney can hold a hospital or medical facility responsible for their lack of precautions in exposing someone to COVID-19.
Finally, while many individuals abide by the stay at home orders and remain self quarantined, thousands of people continue to work in functions as “essential” personnel. All throughout the country, grocery store and other retail employees continue to work, with the unknown threat of exposure to COVID-19 lurking. While the nation owes these workers a debt of gratitude, their health and safety may become compromised by their employers taking a lack of necessary measures to ensure a safe working environment, like routine sanitization and employee access to and use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Globally, but especially in the United States, including the state of Arizona, there has been an extreme shortage of PPE. If an employer irresponsibly and negligently requires their employees to work during this pandemic, without access and use to PPE, a personal injury attorney can hold them responsible for their negligence in exposing an employee to COVID-19.