The pandemic is alive and well in virtually all of America, and Atlanta is no exception.
Thankfully, in Atlanta, the local government strongly encourages you to wear masks when you’re outside your home, except when exercising, eating, or drinking. You’re still supposed to stay at least six feet away from other people whenever that’s possible.
Medical science agrees that this is the best action course. However, it’s one thing to choose to wear a mask, or not, when you’re on your own time. But what about Atlanta residents who have had to physically go back to work during the pandemic?
What if You Catch Covid-19 While at Work?
The real question is this. Say that you have a job where you can’t work from home, or your boss won’t let you do so. Maybe you’re a food service industry worker, or you have a retail job.
You go to work wearing a mask, but you catch Covid-19 anyway. After fighting back against the virus, you die from it. Can your family bring a wrongful death lawsuit against your employer?
It’s an interesting question and one that’s probably going to come up quite a bit over the months and years. To try to answer it, let’s delve into what “wrongful death” actually means.
What Exactly Does Wrongful Death Mean?
If you’re trying to hold someone liable in a wrongful death lawsuit, you might need to prove some or all of these elements:
- The individual or entity in question directly or indirectly caused a person’s death
- They did so knowing that society would consider their actions reckless or negligent
In most states, when a family can bring a lawful death suit and expect to win is if the deceased individual could have brought a legal injury claim had they survived. The family is pursuing justice on their behalf.
What Are Some Common Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
The pandemic is something that no one alive has seen before, not unless they happened to live through the Spanish Flu a hundred years ago. There is no precedent for what’s happening, at least not regarding some of the court battles that will doubtless play out.
Common wrongful death lawsuits usually involve something like:
- Drunk or reckless driving
- Defective products that made it to market anyway
- Nursing home negligence or medical malpractice
- Criminally negligent homicide or manslaughter
Basically, in any of these instances, the family must prove a common factor if they want to collect a judgment in their favor. They must establish that the individual or entity against whom they are bringing the lawsuit acted in a way that caused someone’s death.
That individual or entity on trial might have known that what they were doing could cause death or injury, or they may not have known it. In either case, if the court determines they are criminally liable, some money is going to change hands when it’s all said and done.
What About Atlanta Employers?
It seems likely that if an Atlanta employer knew about the pandemic, and they knew how dangerous it was, a court could hold them criminally liable if they demanded that an employee return to work while it was still going on. However, it’s not that simple.
If you’re a food service industry worker, for instance, and your boss told you to come back to work in May or June, or they’d fire you, they may have told you to wear a mask covering your nose and mouth. If you then catch the coronavirus and die from it, your family might not have as strong of a case as they’d like.
The employer could argue that they followed the CDC guidelines to the best of their abilities. If the CDC said that a mouth-and-nose covering was adequate virus protection, along with standing at least six feet away from other employees and customers, they might lose the suit.
Frankly, it’s probably too early to tell how some of these lawsuits are going to go. One thing is certain: with more than 200,000 people dead, we’re going to be seeing plenty of them very soon.
We’ll see how juries interpret the law in these instances. In the meantime, understand that every time you go to work in Atlanta, even if you’re wearing a mask, you’re taking a real risk you can’t ignore.