Compensation for COVID-19

Edited by Admin

Compensation for COVID-19 may be possible if you can prove negligence on the part of the person, business, or organization that caused your illness. Learn more about how to proceed.


Compensation for COVID-19


Did you catch the COVID-19 virus due to negligence on the part of an individual or an organization? Might you be entitled to compensation? As with so many of the questions surrounding COVID, the answers regarding compensation aren’t entirely clear. However, the short answer is that you can sue anyone for negligence—but only if they were reckless in protecting the health of others, and did not take proper precautions.


There are, however, exceptions to this. In Ontario, workers in provincially-regulated workplaces do not generally have a right to sue their employers if they become sick or injured at work. The Workplace Safety Insurance Board governs these types of cases, allowing workers to access no-fault insurance. However, if an employee contracts COVID-19 at work and then infects their own family members—and negligence can be proven—the family members may have a case against the employer.


Proving Negligence


Proving negligence is key. Bill 218, the Supporting Ontario's Recovery Act, which came into force in Ontario in November 2020, provides liability protection from COVID-19 related incidents going back to the March of 2020. This law states that a person (defined as including individuals, corporations, and even the government) will not be held liable if an act or an omission, directly or indirectly, leads to another person being exposed to COVID-19, so long as they have made a “good faith” effort to act according to public health guidance, and have not acted in a grossly negligent manner.


A spokesperson for the Canadian Department of Justice told Global News that “Criminal Code offences of criminal negligence causing death or criminal negligence causing bodily harm could apply, if the situation involves a person who knows they have COVID intentionally acting to spread the virus to others, and one or more of those other people suffers bodily harm or death as a result.” The definition of criminal negligence includes actions that show a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons. Legal experts are divided about whether or not vaccine refusal might fall into this category.


 Arthur Caplan, founding head of New York University School of Medicine’s division of ethics, and Dorit Reiss, a law professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law wrote about the issue of unvaccinated people in a recent issue of Barron’s magazine. “Choices have consequences. Personal responsibility matters,” they said. The writers go on to say that: “We routinely impose costs on those who harm others by failing to take precautions. We impose costs on drivers who don’t stop at stop lights, campers who are not careful and cause fires, and homeowners who don’t shovel snow from their sidewalks. If a person negligently failed to take precautions against Covid-19, we can and should require them to be responsible…Those who refuse to vaccinate are acting against the established risk-benefit balance, against expert recommendations, against reasonable prudence and are risking the well-being of others. Shouldn’t they be held to account?” Caplan went on to say that if an unvaccinated person infects and hospitalizes someone else, lawsuits should happen, “just like when somebody doesn’t adequately protect their pool with a fence or cover their well with a lid.” He holds that the unvaccinated may be liable for medical bills, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity. However, we do not usually hold non-action responsible in the same way as we hold the actions of an individual accountable.


Another obstacle to obtaining compensation for a COVID-19 illness or death is that it can be difficult to prove exactly how you were infected. Unless it can be made clear that a particular irresponsible individual was the source, or a policy that went against public health recommendations was the cause of the illness, it can be problematic to pursue the case.


As of now, COVID is not specifically regulated by criminal law in the same way as HIV, for example, is. A person with HIV is legally required under Canadian law to disclose that they have tested positive before engaging in behaviour that could spread the virus, and if they do not disclose, they can be charged with a variety of criminal offenses. With COVID, experts speculate that liability is more likely to be assigned when someone has refused to comply with an order or directive from public health authorities. If someone has ignored the provisions of the federal Quarantine Act, for example, there is a clear violation of public health legislation.


Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer


If you have contracted COVID-19 due to negligence, consult with a personal injury lawyer. The initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer is free, and these lawyers do not charge up-front fees, but rather receive a percentage of any damages that you recover. Contact a personal injury law firm today to learn more about your options.