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The Zika virus began as a non-deadly mosquito-borne illness that caused only mild symptoms in adults. But with the recent discoveries that it can be transmitted through sexual contact and can cause devastating birth defects if contracted by a pregnant woman, Zika is threatening to turn into a global pandemic.
And where sickness and injury arise, lawsuits are sure to follow. So who could be liable if someone is infected by the Zika virus?
Hospital staff and medical personnel tasked with working with the Zika virus or treating infected patients may have a claim against their employer if they become infected. Hospitals can be sued for employer negligence for failing to adequately notify, prepare, train, and/or equip its staff to deal with an outbreak.
Hospitals and medical facilities who undertake treatment in viral outbreaks generally must exercise reasonable care in protecting the public and its staff, and may not increase the risk of harm or infection.
Sexual Partner Liability
Now that we know Zika can be sexually transmitted, those who know they are infected or may have been exposed to the virus owe a duty to their sexual partners to either abstain from sex, warn their partners, or take the proper precautions during sex, like using a condom.
Just like you can sue someone for giving you an STD, you may be able to sue someone for negligently or purposefully giving you the Zika virus. And women who are already pregnant should take extra care before having sex with someone who may be infected.
In some cases you may be able to file a claim against a city, county, state, or federal government for failing to properly warn citizens of the risk of the virus or acting too slowly to prevent a virus from spreading. While government entities are generally granted sovereign immunity for their official acts, you may still be able to prove negligence on the entity's part if you contracted the virus.
If you've been infected by the Zika virus, you may want to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney about your legal options.