We are all very familiar with the grim coronavirus fatality statistics, especially for people over 50. However, it’s usually much more difficult to determine where and how an individual contracted COVID-19. As a result, a wrongful death claim against an individual or entity is also more difficult, but certainly not impossible, to prove in court.
No Illinois wrongful death attorney can turn back the clock and reverse the events which lead to the person’s death. But a lawyer can obtain the financial compensation survivors need to pay final expenses. Furthermore, the financial compensation helps assuage the grief these survivors feel. That’s what the deceased person would have wanted.
A COVID-19 wrongful death claim has two basic elements, the where and the how. Let’s break down these elements individually.
“Where” and the Burden of Proof in a Civil Claim
Most people only visit a handful of indoor locations per week. So, given this small sample size the ability to trace an infection date to a specific day, at least with a great degree of certainty, it’s relatively easy to prove the “where” of a COVID-19 wrongful death claim by a preponderance of the evidence. That’s the degree of proof necessary in most civil claims.
Basically, a preponderance of the evidence means more likely than not. Assume two equally-sized stacks of paper sit side by side. Someone moves a single sheet from the left to the right. If that happens, the stack on the right is taller than the stack on the right. That’s an image of the preponderance of the evidence in a civil claim.
Cell phone tracking is perhaps the best evidence in these situations. Most people always leave their smartphone GPS locators on.
Even if they turn them off, the cell phone’s CLSI data is still available. When people move around, their phones automatically connect to the nearest cell phone tower. These connections are time and date-stamped. The cell phone company owns Cell Site Location Information data, so it is a little harder for an Illinois wrongful death attorney to obtain.
“How” and COVID-19 Negligence
People almost always unintentionally spread coronavirus. In many cases, these people might not even know they are sick. However, such spreading could easily be negligent.
Essentially, negligence is a lack of care. The standard of care for containing coronavirus, such as masking or vaccination requirements, social distancing, and surface disinfecting, is rather well-established.
Compensation is available if a business or other entity did not use ordinary care. That usually means a serious lapse in one of the three aforementioned areas. Evidence on this point includes:
- Official Fines: The strongest possible evidence on this point is a health agency’s or other governmental unit’s recent fine for violation of coronavirus restrictions.
- Unofficial Violations: Frequently, attorneys can locate disinterested witnesses who personally saw standard of care violations. Such witnesses are usually almost as compelling as a fine or other official action.
- Other Civil Claims: If a particular decedent contracted coronavirus at a particular location, there are probably others. A brief survey of civil records usually pulls up such documents. Such actions might or might not be compelling, since in most cases, anyone can sue anyone for any reason.
Compensation in a wrongful death claim usually involves pecuniary losses, such as funeral and burial expenses, loss of future economic support, the decedent’s medical bills, and loss of future financial support. Survivors might also be entitled to compensation for their own grief and suffering.
Work With a Thorough Winnebago County Attorney
Property owners could be legally responsible for coronavirus deaths. For a free consultation with an experienced Illinois wrongful death attorney, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. You have a limited amount of time to act.