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A nurse who contracted Ebola from the first U.S. patient to be diagnosed with the disease back in 2014 settled her lawsuit against the hospital she worked in last month. While the details of the settlement remain confidential, typically, when a settlement is announced like this, it means the plaintiff won.
The nurse's lawsuit alleged that the hospital was negligent in training staff to handle an Ebola diagnosis, and failed to provide the proper safeguards for employees. Fortunately, both this nurse and one other nurse that also contracted Ebola at the same hospital, made full recoveries from the deadly viral infection. Unfortunately, as a result of the stress and treatments, both still suffer some lingering effects such as pain, hair loss, insomnia, and nightmares.
Can You Sue Your Employer for an Illness Received On-the-Job?
While some people might find it odd that a nurse can sue a hospital after contracting the same virus that a patient in the hospital had, there's more to it than that. The hospital in question did not have the proper supplies on hand to protect their employees, and additionally, had not properly trained their staff on how to handle the Ebola virus. Around that time in 2014, there was worldwide concern over the outbreak of Ebola, and hospitals across the United States weren't just getting ready to treat single cases, but were gearing up for an outbreak. These facts provide the backdrop for a negligence claim.
To make matters worse, the nurse in this case not only contracted the illness, but was used as a political prop for the hospital. Video footage of her was shown, and her medical case was treated as a publicity stunt, rather than a private matter.
Why Not Workers' Compensation?
While the nurse may have been able to file a workers' compensation claim, typically, those are for on-the-job injuries that will require a protracted recovery time where the employee will need steady income during that time. The injury in this case is more closely related to a standard negligence claim because it would not have happened if the hospital had prepared properly. In this case, a workers' compensation claim would not have fully remedied the nurse's legal claims.