Our last article asked whether or not we could sue after catching coronavirus on the job — and perhaps we jumped the gun when we said that the answer was almost certainly “no.” We still contend that it will be difficult for a plaintiff to prove that the coronavirus was contracted due to someone else’s negligence, but new possibilities have arisen since we visited the subject last. We do expect many new cases in the coming months and years.
The reason is simple. Many people have found themselves at the doors of financial ruin, and employers across the country have done precious little to help avoid calamity. But it’s not just employers. Individuals are still playing the role of the village idiot when confronted with a harsh reality they don’t understand.
For example, one shopper licked a number of Wal-Mart products while asking “Who’s afraid of coronavirus?” He was subsequently arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat. We could never have anticipated that local and state authorities would take this approach with people who weren’t taking this outbreak seriously. Because they are taking it seriously, lawsuits built against those who have already been charged or convicted of threats like these will be much easier to win.
Thousands of employees across the country have been laid off because small business owners cannot afford to keep them on. And non-essential businesses have been forced to close their doors by state and local governments, which means many people are unable to work regardless. Those businesses that have stayed open are under a barrage of attack from employees.
Employees are demanding paid sick leave, hazard pay, and safe working environments amidst one of the most dangerous pandemics of our modern era — and who can tell them they don’t deserve all those rewards for working through this crisis?
Business owners will be sued for forcing employees to work while sick — or, at the very least, providing them with little alternative to work because they simply don’t make enough. If you’re not fired or laid off, you can’t collect unemployment. Quitting won’t get you a check. That means if you’re sick, tough luck. Courts will not like that logic in the coming months.
That’s because this situation is expected to go from bad to worse. Should the numbers continue to escalate at the current exponential rate, we can anticipate thousands of American fatalities every day by the beginning of May. This is a scary nightmare scenario for hospitals across the country that are ill-equipped to deal with the crisis at hand, and it’s closer and closer to a reality.