Can You Sue Someone For Making You Sick?

When it comes to medical conditions like illnesses, a personal injury lawyer may be a surprisingly useful guide and advocate for taking legal action, but it depends a lot on the type of illness. One of the more common types of illness that normally go to court are related to food poisoning, either at a restaurant or, more commonly as the result of negligence a manufacturer or farm when it comes to harvesting, preparing, packaging and selling food in retail outlets like grocery stores.

But what if you get sick from something other than food? What happens if you contract an illness in some other fashion, and another person is responsible? Can you still go to court for this? As with so many things in the legal world, the answer is, “it depends.” And it depends largely on the circumstances you find yourself in.

Environmental Illness

Sometimes it is what a person does to the environment that causes the illness that another person contracts. For example, asbestos is now a known carcinogen, and has been banned from use in American construction. However, all buildings predating the 1980s ban have a chance of having asbestos used in their construction. If Asbestos breaks into tiny particles and is inhaled, that may eventually develop into different types of lung cancer.

A property owner that fails to disclose that a building has asbestos in it can be taken to court if employees—or worse yet, renting tenants—eventually contract lung cancer as a direct result of asbestos exposure. In this case, it would be premises liability, since the illness is caused by negligent property maintenance.

Disease Transmission

Things become much more challenging—but not impossible—when it comes to actual person-to-person disease transmission. One of the biggest hurdles in a successful personal injury case involving disease transmission via individuals is proof. For example, if there’s an epidemic of bird flu going through a city, that means that many people throughout the area are potential carriers. How do you produce evidence that verifies, to the satisfaction of a jury, that the person you are holding responsible for transmitting the disease to you is, in fact, the right person? If you were in a shopping mall, it could be anyone there, or on the bus, or any other public space.

The one exception to this is in the area of STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases. Because of the nature of transmission, that is, sexual activity, it is generally much easier to hold one other single party responsible for infection. In fact, in the state of Florida, some diseases have extremely severe legal repercussions. The transmission of the HIV virus, for example, can lead to criminal charges for the person responsible, since HIV may be a lethal disease for the infected person.

Probability & Evidence

The key to a disease related personal injury case is, as with other types of personal injury, contingent on the evidence you can provide. This is why mass epidemics are very difficult to bring to court, while STDs have a significantly higher probability of success. In some cases, you may be able to prove intent through timing. If, as an example, you find out that a person that gave you a disease had earlier been diagnosed and advised by a doctor that he or she had the disease, then the fact that they later participated in activities that could transmit the disease strongly indicates negligence.

If you find yourself coming down with a sickness that requires serious hospitalization and even causes lost wages, and someone else is responsible for that disease, get in touch with a St. Pete lawyer. Get the compensation you’re owed..