President Donald J. Trump lambasted former Vice President Joe Biden’s allegedly excessive use of facial masks — a proven preventative measure for coronavirus — only days before he himself came down with the illness. Now, the assumed timeline is at odds with official statements. More and more whitehouse staff are coming down with coronavirus as Trump continues to downplay the illness. Can they sue for personal injury?
Generally, personal injury lawsuits occur when one party has wronged another through negligence. For example, let’s say an automobile owner is texting at the wheel and causes a serious accident in which several people are injured. Those injured parties can sue the negligent party for personal injury, arguing that distracted driving was the reason why the accident occurred — even if the driver’s texting was only part of the reason why the accident occurred.
COVID-19 lawsuits are difficult. This is because the burden of proof is on the person suing. They must prove that the president’s negligence caused them to get sick — and that’s only one of the obstacles in the way of building a successful lawsuit. The biggest obstacle might just be that Trump is president. That’s not to say he can’t be sued while in office. In fact, there have been hundreds of lawsuits against him over the last four years, by individuals, organizations, and even entire states. Many of those lawsuits have been successful.
Technically, those who believe themselves injured because of the president’s carelessness in dealing with the virus can sue — but they probably won’t. That’s because it’s not possible to go it alone, and a personal injury lawyer is unlikely to take the case. That’s not necessarily because the president is involved. More likely, it’s because personal injury lawyers work on contingency. That means they only get paid if they can win the case. Because personal injury cases are so much more difficult to prove when a contagion is involved, they don’t want to risk it.
It has been well documented that Trump hates face masks as a deterrent, which is why he’s under such scrutiny right now — at a time when many people within his circle are sick with COVID-19. Even though his inaction on coronavirus has likely resulted in many of those cases, it’s impossible to prove beyond doubt. That means court cases are likely to fail.
Those affected by the virus have other options that don’t involve litigation, such as homeowners insurance. Unfortunately, even that might not result in any financial compensation since many policies exclude contagions or communicable diseases. It’s still worth looking at the policy to see if there are any loopholes. You might have checked the right box when searching for the best policy, or you might not have.
The restrictions for this type of litigation mean that people won’t necessarily worry about liability — and that means that holding them accountable will be nearly impossible.