Law360 April 7, 2020

By Anne Marie Ellis

“For most of us in the legal profession, COVID-19 has caused many disruptions and unanticipated consequences, and it has wreaked havoc on our court system. However, the full extent of the crisis has yet to be realized.

If you practice in the product liability and personal injury space, COVID-19 will not be going away anytime soon. I predict that we will see the ripple effects of the pandemic for years to come, particularly in personal injury cases.

The first fact pattern we will likely encounter is a personal injury plaintiff (let’s call him Mr. Smith) who is injured by a tortfeasor. He resides in California, and is hit by a car while riding his bike, and suffers a serious brain injury.

First, let’s assume that Smith seeks immediate medical treatment related to his personal injuries, at a hospital that is overrun with patients being treated for COVID-19. Smith is admitted to the hospital and unfortunately contracts the coronavirus during his stay. If Smith contracts the virus through the negligence of the hospital, nurses or doctors, this will not relieve the tortfeasor of liability.”

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