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1401 Forum Way, Suite 501 | West Palm Beach, Florida 33401
*NOTICE: We offer free phone consultations. In order to comply with the CDC recommendations and protect the health and safety of our clients, staff, friends and family, we will have limited physical office hours and availability. Please do not hesitate to contact us by phone. We're here to help. * 561-422-4630
Can You Bring an Emotional Distress Claim Related to COVID-19?

The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is not only potentially deadly, but can be transmitted by individuals who are not showing any symptoms, so people might fear that they’ve contracted the illness even if they feel fine. While the virus has existed in the United States for months, obtaining a test is still difficult in many areas and getting the results can take several days. It’s understandable that a person who believes he or she was exposed to coronavirus might suffer significant emotional harm regardless of what the test result eventually shows. As more Americans are afflicted with COVID-19, it seems likely that we’ll see lawsuits seeking damages for emotional distress related to actual or potential infection.

States vary in how they handle claims alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress, but by examining some of the elements of these actions, along with similar actions involving the spread of disease, we can gain some insight as to how these cases might be litigated. Key factors in emotional distress lawsuits can include:

  • Physical impact — In cases where a plaintiff was stricken with COVID-19 because of someone else’s negligence, the victim might be able to collect compensation for emotional distress along with other types of damages such as reimbursement for medical expenses and lost income. Some states do allow standalone suits, but physical symptoms of the stress usually have to be proven, such as stomach problems, headaches or lost sleep.
  • Foreseeability — As the coronavirus threat intensified in this country, the response changed quickly. Even government guidance shifted drastically about what type of gatherings were safe and whether people should wear masks in public. Those shifts might make it hard to demonstrate that a defendant would be able to foresee that their negligent act or inaction would cause someone emotional harm. Each situation has a unique set of facts, however, and if you’re unsure about the likelihood of a favorable verdict, a qualified personal injury lawyer can offer guidance.
  • Zone of danger — Depending on the jurisdiction of the claim, an individual pursuing legal relief associated with emotional harm has to show that he or she was close enough to the negligent incident to experience an immediate threat of physical injury. Seemingly, if someone was negligently coughed on or forced to touch a contaminated surface that should have been cleaned, they would be in this “zone of danger.”

Emotional distress litigation is often complicated, made more so by the great variance regarding reasonable safety measures that should be taken to stop the spread of COVID-19. Once you discuss your situation with a lawyer who is familiar with these claims, you’ll have a better perspective on your options.

Contact an effective personal injury lawyer to discuss your case

Vassallo, Bilotta, Friedman & Davis advocates on behalf of clients in personal injury cases. To set up a consultation, please call 561-422-4630 or contact the firm online.

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Our Office
  • West Palm Beach Office
    1401 Forum Way
    Suite 501
    West Palm Beach, Florida 33401
    Phone: 561-471-2800
    Fax: 561-471-2818
  • Stuart Office
    50 E. Ocean Blvd.
    Stuart, Florida 34994
    Phone: 772-221-8262
Verdicts & Settlements
  • "$3,200,000 -- Motorcycle crash causing abdominal injuries* Defendant who was driving a van which struck our client only had $10,000 insurance coverage. Due to the failure of the insurer to timely resolve the case we obtained a settlement of 3.2 million."

  • "$2,156,249 -- Slip & fall causing low back injuries* Defendant grocery store put out wet floor signs due to a leaking freezer. Client fell while walking down the aisle. Defendant claimed client was 100% at fault. A jury found no responsibility on the client and awarded over 2.1 million in damages."

  • "$1,550,000 -- Tractor Trailor crash causing back injuries * Defendant trucking company claimed their driver was not at fault for a crash on I-95 and blamed a phantom vehicle After a trial the jury awarded our client over 1.5 million in damages."

  • "$1,417,937 -- Car crash causing injuries to an elderly couple.* Defendant claimed the husband who was 83 years old violated defendant's right of way. After a trial the jury awarded the husband and wife over 1.4 million."

  • "$1,000,000 -- Full-size Pickup Truck striking the back of client's car* Defendant denied liability claiming they were pushed from behind into our client. The case settled after a 2 week trial, while the jury was out deliberating."