With what we now know about how germs are spread, one might think that if someone gets them sick, they’ll be able to sue the person who got them sick. While, generally, you can sue anyone for anything, particularly when you’ve been clearly wronged by another’s negligence, doing so is not always a good idea.
Typically, cases involving the transmission of illnesses are plagued with some rather high hurdles. At the outset, not only will a victim be required to prove that the defendant actually got them sick, but also that it was intentional or negligent. And even though the first part might seem clear to you, if the illness can be spread in different ways, or is easily communicated in the air, or on surfaces, it’s going to be really hard to prove. Though certain situations, like housing environments leading to illness, or STD transmissions, might be a bit more cut and dry.
STDs and Lawsuits
The most frequent types of illnesses that are the subject of lawsuits are sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes or AIDS. While normally suing someone for getting you sick is ill-advised, if someone gave you a STD, speaking to an attorney about your options might be a good idea, as you’ll likely require lifelong care, or rather expensive care.
STD cases are more common due to the fact that these illnesses and diseases are spread through direct sexual contact, and as such, it’s easier to prove the “causation” element of the injury claim. Additionally, there is a higher likelihood that a person who gives another a STD either knows about their own condition, or at least should have known about.
Suing Over the Common Cold or Flu
While you know that your co-worker who sits two cubes behind you is responsible for your strep throat and/or flu, suing him might not even be possible. If you contracted your illness at work, it’s unlikely that workers’ compensation will apply, but it could (so check your state’s laws). Additionally, even though you may have suffered some serious economic losses due to an ER visit, loss of wages, or other financial losses, common illnesses, like the cold or flu, are nearly impossible to recover on, as it is nearly impossible to prove how you got it.
But, if you have video or other indisputable evidence that a sick co-worker intentionally got you sick, you may wish to consult both a personal injury and an employment attorney, as that is a rather complex legal problem that will require careful consideration before taking any action.
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