It’s been more than a year and we’re still battling the Covid-19 pandemic, although we are starting to see the end of the battle and restrictions are slowly being lifted across the world. But this doesn’t mean that we can relax and return to our previous, pre-pandemic, lives and routines.
Some of the safety measures are still in effect and despite many of them, people contract Covid-19 and questions about business’s responsibility are on the rise. Can you actually sue a business in Arizona if you contract Covid-19 on their premises?
The short answer to this question would be YES. As a customer in Arizona, you could file a lawsuit against an AZ business if their irresponsible safety practices or premature opening were the cause of you catching Covid-19.
But the more pressing and important question would be if that kind of lawsuit would be successful or would it be dismissed after it’s been filed?
What to look for in a personal injury case?
When personal injury lawyers take on a case, they become investors in their case, meaning that their compensation will be determined whether a settlement or jury verdict is reached. So if the case isn’t solid enough to reach a settlement or jury verdict, then taking on a case like that is a risk. So before moving forward, make sure that you contact our lawyers to see if you have questions about your case.
Is a Covid-19 case against an Arizona business worth it?
Let’s assume that the Covid-19 safety orders (lockdown, social distancing etc.) in Arizona are lifted and a re-opened business fails to take the necessary measures in order to protect its staff and customers.
You visit that restaurant and a few days later you start showing Covid-19 symptoms (fever, coughing, difficulty breathing etc.) and end up in a hospital. You have to be absent from work, have lung damage for months, only to learn that there was an outbreak in that same restaurant where you had lunch. Is this a worthwhile case?
It is of course possible that a business in Arizona could be negligent in its safety practices and that the same restaurant can be the sole source of the infection. But we still need to consider two other important questions: Assumption of risk and Causation.
If you file a Covid-19 case against a business in Arizona, the case can be considered to be a premises liability case. It’s a form of negligence case where a business is financially responsible for injuries the customer sustains when it’s on the premises and the business/owner fails to warn the customer of potential risks/dangers. Of course, only if the business/owner knew or should have known about the potential risks.
We could think of the “viruses’ presence” as an “unreasonably dangerous condition”. Any business that is not taking the necessary precaution could be on notice of the virus’ presence. So even though the business/owner didn’t actually see the virus, it should have known that it was there since it didn’t take all the necessary steps to make its premises safe and “virus-free”.
Assumption of Risk
If you enter a batting cage, you can assume the risk of getting hit by the ball and getting injured if you stand too close to the plate. By applying the same logic, when entering a densely public place during Covid-19, you do so knowingly and understanding the risk. So, in this case, the jury would have to decide who is responsible (in what percentage) for negligence, between you as the customer and the business.
Causation in a Covid-19 case
The second, a quite frankly, troublesome problem is to prove that the negligence of the Arizona business is the actual cause of you catching Covid-19. It is really difficult to prove that that specific restaurant (or its owner) was negligent and is responsible for your disease.
A customer who is likely to take a kind of risk of going to a restaurant during a pandemic, is most likely to go to other public places during or before the incubation period.
Things aren’t made easier with the fact that Covid-19 is a highly transmissible virus that can easily go airborne just from the droplets of other people’s breathing. And it can stay airborne for quite some time. So it’s up to the plaintiff to prove that he/she caught the virus at that specific restaurant and nowhere else.
The defense will most likely do a thorough research of your schedule, where you were during those days, how crowded was it, do you live with someone etc. and trace all your contacts in order to try and found other potential sources of the transmission.
Consult with a lawyer first!
From the analysis above, you can see that filing a Covid-19 case against a business in Arizona isn’t that simple as other types of premises liability cases. So before moving forward, we recommend that you schedule a free consultation with us so we could learn more about the specific circumstances of your situation and recommend the best course of action.