Civil Liability for Zika Virus Infections

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that originated in Africa in the 1940s and was initially detected in monkeys. It was later identified in humans by 1952. From the 1960s to 1980s, Zika virus infections were found mostly in Africa and Asia and were typically accompanied by only minor illness. Now, however, the Zika virus has become a full-blown epidemic in many South and Central American countries and has even made its way to the United States. Zika virus during pregnancy is often the cause of congenital brain abnormalities in the fetus, including microcephaly, and the Zika virus is also a trigger of Guillain-Barré syndrome. The virus is primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, but can also be spread through blood transfusions and sexual activity.

Below, we’ll examine three ways that you may be able to hold someone else liable if they were responsible for your Zika infection.

Employer Negligence

If you work in an environment where you are regularly exposed to the virus, for example, as hospital staff or as medical personnel, you might be able to pursue a claim against your employer if you become infected with the Zika virus. This type of action would be based on employer negligence, meaning that your employer failed to adequately prepare, warn, or train their staff to properly handle a Zika outbreak and the risks it poses. All hospitals and other medical facilities must exercise care in protecting their employees and the public, and should not operate in any way that might increase a person’s risk of becoming infected. If they do, they may expose themselves to civil liability.

Negligence of a Sexual Partner

Because the Zika virus can also be spread through sexual activity, you might be able to pursue a claim against a sexual partner if they gave you the virus. You can already sue sexual partners for giving you an STD by proving your sexual partner’s negligence to warn you of the infection if they were aware of their own diagnosis, so suing someone for a Zika virus infection would be similar. In these types of cases, you must convince a judge or jury that a reasonable person would have abstained from sex. You must also prove that your infected partner had a duty to inform you of the virus and to prevent its spread.

Municipal Negligence

Holding municipalities civilly liable can be tricky due to sovereign immunity, the legal concept that governments cannot be held liable in civil suits except in cases in which they consent to be sued. However, you might still be able to file a claim against a city, county, or other government entity if you can prove that the entity failed to properly warn citizens of the risk of a Zika virus infection or failed to act quickly enough to prevent the virus from spreading.

Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been infected with the Zika virus or any other transmittable illness due to negligence, you may be able to recover your damages. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Covington, Augusta, and Dalton.

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