Personal Injury Claims and COVID-19: What You Should Know Going Back to the Office
The worst of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be behind us. Non-essential businesses have re-opened, and employees are going back to work. Many companies like Microsoft have mandated that their employees can work from home through October 2020. This mandate excludes workers that are essential and have to be on-site to ensure the efficient functioning of Microsoft’s business operations. Google is another company that has put measures into place for employees to work from home for the foreseeable future. Google’s management has decided that their staff can work from home until Summer 2021.
However, the caveat here is that, as people start to move around again and congregate together, the virus numbers are starting to increase again. This gives rise to at least two questions:
- Are employers responsible for providing PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) such as masks and sanitizers to employees back at work?
- Are employers responsible for ensuring that the workplace is COVID-19 free and safe for staff?
If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, the next question that must be asked and answered is whether employees have the right to file a personal injury claim against their employer if they contract the virus in the workplace?
The Seattle personal injury attorney provides the following points by way of answering these questions:
Was the employer negligent?
Another name for a personal injury or the personal injury law is a tort and the tort law respectively. A definition of a tort is as follows:
“A tort is an act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another and amounts to a civil wrong for which courts impose liability.”
The primary aim of the tort law is to “provide relief to injured parties for harms caused by others, to impose liability on parties responsible for the harm, and to deter others from committing harmful acts.”
These definitions show that, while the tort law aims to provide legal redress to the injured party or plaintiff, the plaintiff has to prove that the employer’s actions were negligent and resulted in the plaintiff contracting the COVID-19 virus.
Was the plaintiff negligent?
The flipside of the coin is that the plaintiff has a role to play in determining whether they contracted the virus in the workplace or not. In summary, it has to be proven without a shadow a doubt that the employee contracted the virus at work, and that the employee followed the official protocols like wearing a mask, sanitizing regularly, and not going to work with a higher than normal temperature or with COVID-19-like symptoms.
If negligence on the part of the employee can be proven, then the case will more than likely be thrown out of court even if both parties are guilty of negligence.
It’s essential to consult with a legal specialist before deciding whether to file a personal injury lawsuit against the employer. As highlighted above, determining whether the employer and employee were negligent is not simple. Therefore, it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer for advice on how to proceed.