The coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented and applicable law is rapidly developing. Applying traditional North Carolina tort-law principles, it appears that coronavirus victims can file a personal injury lawsuit and claim an entity is liable for negligent transmission of COVID-19. To be successful, the plaintiff would have to prove the defendant:
- Had a duty to prevent negligent transmission. Under North Carolina law, ordinary care is required by everyone and as a rule people are responsible for conduct that causes injury to someone else.
- Breached that duty: To prove someone is liable for infecting others, courts require looking at the degree of certainty a plaintiff suffered an injury, the connection between the defendant’s conduct and the injury sustained, and policies for preventing future harm.