Do you have a close family member who has died from the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19? If so, do you feel aggrieved and believe the blame for the death can be laid squarely at the door of the employer?
While it is essential to note that we are not reducing the trauma, pain, and suffering that goes with the loss of a loved one, it is vital to consider the validity of a wrongful death claim in this scenario.
COVID-19: symptoms and preventions
The COVID-19 virus is a novel coronavirus that is currently sweeping across the world. Current global coronavirus infection numbers are over 3.5 million people across the globe with just under 249 000 deaths.
It causes a respiratory illness that can be fatal for people who are 65 years old and older and who are diagnosed with immune-deficient conditions like diabetes, respiratory conditions like lung diseases, COPD and asthma, severe heart conditions, kidney disease, liver disease, and severe obesity.
The global medical field knows very little about how this virus behaves, except that it spreads rapidly via person-to-person transmission and via asymptomatic carriers. In other words, an individual can be a carrier and not have any symptoms. Therefore, one of the best ways of stopping its spread is social distancing or social isolation.
Consequently, over 50% of the world’s population is currently under a stay-at-home order and they are only allowed out to seek medical attention or purchase essential goods.
And, frontline staff like medical professionals and other essential workers including grocery store staff are to be provided with Personal Preventative Equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers.
Define a wrongful death claim
Wikipedia.com defines wrongful death as a “claim against a person [or third-party like a company] who can be held liable for a death.” Additionally, a wrongful death claim is usually brought by the deceased’s close family members, “as enumerated by statute.”
At this juncture, it is worth noting that it is notoriously difficult to prove wrongful death. Therefore, it is essential to contact a legal expert such as those employed by Albrecht Law to ascertain whether the claim is worth pursuing. Your attorney will make recommendations including attempting to settle an out of court claim with the person or third-party allegedly responsible for the death of your family member.
A wrongful death claim: A case study
Possibly the best way to describe a wrongful death as a consequence of the respiratory illness caused by COVID-19 is to look at an actual example highlighted by Andrew Keshner in his article titled, “Walmart hit with wrongful-death lawsuit by the estate of a worker who died of coronavirus.”
Essentially, a Walmart associate who worked for the company for fifteen years died in March 2020 from the coronavirus. His estate is alleging that the retailer did not sanitize or disinfect the store properly, nor did it provide PPE to keep its employees safe. And finally, the retailer did not inform its employees about the risk they faced when working under the current coronavirus conditions.
Their claim is further strengthened by the fact that another Walmart employee from the same store died four days later.
This claim has been filed in the civil court, and Walmart responded by saying that they were taking the claims seriously. Finally, this claim will now proceed through the civil court process, and either a settlement will be reached, or it will go to trial.