As Businesses Close In Florida, Will COVID Exposure Claims Open?


Cases of COVID are on the rise in Florida. As of this writing, over 100,000 people have been infected, and more than 3,000 deaths as a result.


Because of this, many are wondering if the state reopened too quickly. Some businesses have even decided to close again voluntarily, including Apple and many bars and restaurants.


With all of this confusing back and forth going on, it’s natural to wonder what your recourse may be if you’re infected with COVID while working — or even simply going out to eat in Florida.


Personal injury claims are complex even in the best of times, and the situation with COVID exposure makes them even more so. Here’s what you need to understand about the nature of personal injury claims related to this pandemic and what your rights are if you become infected.


Florida Personal Injury Claims and COVID-19


How does COVID-19 impact a personal injury claim?


Under normal circumstances, in order to be able to get maximum compensation for a personal injury claim, it’s prudent to seek medical care within 24 hours of sustaining an injury. With COVID, that timetable simply doesn’t work.


It can also have an impact on the statute of limitations. Since many courts are still only hearing emergency matters, such as requests for protective orders, a personal injury claim won’t see its day in court anytime in the foreseeable future. However, you can still file electronic documents such as personal injury claims. Online or remote options may also be available to have the case settled.


Ultimately, there are some procedural challenges that COVID has added to personal injury claims, but the plaintiff will still need to prove with convincing and clear evidence that their health and safety was disregarded intentionally by the entity who was negligent in the action.


What If Floridians Get Sick with COVID at Work?


In our state, there are a couple of options available to those who may get sick with COVID due to exposure in the workplace.


Workers Compensation


The worker’s compensation system is usually the first avenue to be explored if someone is exposed to COVID at work. In many states, worker’s compensation serves as a remedy for work-related illnesses and injuries and helps to limit the exposure of the employer to legal action.


In Florida, the worker’s compensation system is the only remedy available for diseases contracted as a result of their occupation. The employee can receive worker’s compensation benefits if they show that the risk of getting the disease is inherent in their work and that the disease was contracted at work.


However, this standard can be difficult to prove simply because COVID-19 is so contagious and common outside of the workplace. This makes it harder to prove the illness was contracted specifically while working.


Personal Injury Claims


A personal injury claim can be filed outside of the worker’s compensation system. However, the employee will need to prove one of two things in order to successfully win the case. They must prove that:


  • The employer intended to deliberately injure the employee, or
  • The employer engaged in behavior that they knew was certain to result in the death or injury of the employee and the employee was not cognizant of this risk due to the fact that the risk was not clear, and the employer hid or distorted these dangers deliberately to prevent the employee from exercising their judgment as to whether they should work or not.

Florida Personal Injury Claims and COVID-19


These standards can make it difficult to win a COVID-19 suit since proving these things in the midst of a pandemic isn’t simple or easy.


Despite all of this, if you feel you’ve been exposed unfairly or without your knowledge, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to fight for the compensation and justice you deserve. No one should have to pay for the mistakes of another.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.