First, it’s important to realize the full social and economic impacts of this viral outbreak. Many of us have yet to take it as seriously as we should. To put it into better perspective, here are a few facts: The presumed reproduction rate of the coronavirus covid-19 falls somewhere between 2.0 and 2.5. That means an infected individual is expected to spread it to at least two other people. Big deal, right?
The seasonal flu has a reproduction rate of R1.3 — and it kills tens of thousands here in the United States each year even though its fatality rate is only .1 percent. By means of comparison, the Spanish flu killed about 2.5 percent of its victims with a reproduction rate of R1.8. Covid-19 kills about 2.0 percent of its victims (although that number might go way down the longer the virus is active) with a higher reproduction rate than the other two viruses.
Spanish flu killed tens of millions of people over a few years. You don’t need to be a mathematician to realize that the potential casualty report for doing little to nothing to contain this outbreak will be very high — the population is much, much higher than it was in 1918.
Economically, this could push us into a global recession — or even a depression. That means what little savings many American families have could be wiped out nearly overnight. Many of us are already experiencing financial hardship.
Which is why we should think long and hard about whether it’s morally right to sue for covid-19 transmission. Did someone willingly and purposely infect you with the virus? If you can prove it, then you absolutely have a case. But fighting it in court could be exceedingly difficult unless you experienced true financial or personal hardship. If you can prove the virus was then transmitted to family and friends who suffered as a result, then a court might be willing to hear your case.
The problem is this: you might not even make it that far. Because most personal injury lawyers make money based on contingency, i.e. they only get paid when you do, they will only take a case they think they can settle quickly or win easily in court. That probably doesn’t apply to cases involving covid-19.
However, one law firm has already begun to build a class action lawsuit against the Chinese government based on an ineffective response to the outbreak and the conspiracy that the virus came from a secret government facility. So what do we know?