With all 50 states now re-opening in one form or another, businesses, nursing homes, medical facilities and others are bracing for what will surely be an onslaught of lawsuits over the illnesses and deaths due to the coronavirus. And we have all heard horror stories of healthcare workers who were, virtually, forced to work in high risk areas without the protection of masks, gloves, etc. We have even heard about at least one funeral home that had bodies of the deceased stacked up outside in the hot sun, decaying.
So, as the Plaintiffs are “Lawyering UP” to file their individual or collective lawsuits, the Plaintiffs will have to prove: (1) that there was a duty of the Defendant to protect the Plaintiff from the harm suffered, (2) that the Defendant breached that duty, (3) that the injuries suffered by the Plaintiff were proximately caused by the negligence of the Defendant, and (4) the damages suffered by the Plaintiff as a result of the Defendant’s negligence. And as Plaintiffs prepare to file their lawsuits, potential Defendants are seeking protection from government officials, seeking immunity from lawsuits.
In injury law, one of the things we look at is whether the injury (or death) was “foreseeable”. About a month ago, a friend who is a healthcare worker informed indicated that she would be traveling to New Orleans to provide healthcare for coronavirus patients. But then she was informed that the facility would NOT be providing masks for the healthcare workers. As a result, she refused to go. And over the last few months, there have been many similar reports. Now, for certain many facilities will argue that masks, gloves, etc., were in limited supply at the time. However, the steps the facility took to protect its healthcare workers and patients will need to be litigated.