The coronavirus (COVID-19) has certainly raised medical questions nationwide, but also some unprecedented legal ones. One is whether doctors and other healthcare professionals can be held liable for patients that develop COVID-19 after being treated for unrelated conditions.
Michael Wilson of the Law Offices of Dr. Michael Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates was recently quoted in Courthouse News speaking on this very question. As both a physician and an attorney, he is well positioned to address the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 lawsuits.
COVID-19 and Liability Claims
The article describes how difficult it may be for patients to pursue COVID-19 medical malpractice claims. To have a valid claim, patients must establish that they contracted the infection through a healthcare professional or by touching something within the hospital that was contaminated. According to Wilson, whose law firm is based in Washington, D.C., this will be incredibly difficult for plaintiffs to prove.
“If you are alleging infection, that can be tough because where did the virus come from? Was it left on a counter or doorknob? Did a nurse sneeze? You have to actually prove it came from hospital failure instead of maybe, shaking your boss’ hand a day before you walked into a hospital,” he says in the article.
Another issue surrounding liability claims and COVID-19 is that the standard of care for healthcare professionals has changed. The entire healthcare system has had to adjust to challenges as a result of the virus. Unless a medical worker showed gross negligence or recklessness, he or she is generally protected from coronavirus-related liability claims.
What Does the Future Hold?
Like so many questions about COVID-19, how legal claims will proceed is largely unknown. Federal legislation is likely not going to emerge given that the impact of the virus is regional and that healthcare facilities in different areas will be impacted differently. As such, liability claims surrounding COVID-19 will likely be determined at the state level.
It is also unknown if patients will want to file a medical malpractice claim against a healthcare professional in the midst of a pandemic, or even shortly afterward. These workers have been on the frontlines fighting against the virus, at great personal risk to themselves and their families.
Do You Think You Have a Claim? Call Our Washington, D.C. Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Although the future surrounding COVID-19 and liability claims is uncertain, it does not mean that healthcare professionals have the right to act negligently. If you believe that you or a loved one was exposed to the coronavirus due to another person’s carelessness, a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice lawyer can answer any questions that you may have.
When you work with the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson M.D., J.D., & Associates, you have the advantage of hiring a highly qualified legal team with in-depth knowledge of both the medical and legal professions. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.