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Can You Sue If Someone Gives You The Zika Virus?

Florida is in the unfortunate position of establishing a rather unimpressive first for America. We may be the first state in the country to a have reported case of Zika virus that occurred here naturally, rather than having been brought back from abroad. The Zika virus itself is normally transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, but it can also be a sexually transmitted disease. With many different ways for the virus to be delivered, some may wonder if they have any legal options should they contract the disease.

The truth is, people in Florida actually do, but only under specific conditions.

Knowledge Is Key

For a case of disease transmission to go to court—and succeed—the single most important factor that the case will rest on is knowledge. In this case, knowledge means the person that passed on the disease MUST have known in advance that he or she was infected, but chose not to take precautions and pass on the disease through unprotected sex anyway. At the very least, with proof, this can be pursued as a negligence case. In more severe cases, it may actually be tried as a criminal case.

This is where things become a bit more complicated with Zika virus for two big reasons. The first, and most important, is that Zika virus has, up until now, been considered a “low level” biological threat to most people. The reason for this is that most people that contract the virus don’t even show any symptoms of being sick. And even the people that do show symptoms exhibit non-threatening traits. It is only the specific combination of being a pregnant women where the virus shows a real danger, as the virus mutates when it transmits from a pregnant woman to the unborn child, usually resulting in serious birth defects.

The other problem—especially now for Florida—is that if the Zika virus is now in the local mosquito population, then ANYONE that is bitten by a mosquito may have contracted the illness in that way. For residents of Canada, for example, where it is normally too cold for these virus carrying mosquitos to survive, it’s easy enough to point the finger at sexual transmission, as that’s the only practical way to get it.

Now, with the current findings pending in our state, things become a lot more muddled. It’s still possible to try and take such a case to court, but it will rely on extremely strong evidence that the victim was not bitten by a mosquito and could only have contracted it from someone that was infected, knew it, but didn’t care enough to take precautions.

It’s still certainly possible that these specific conditions may arise in a Florida case. But the chances of success are very slim if anyone can contract the virus now from the local mosquito population. There’s also the matter of the time and expense that would be required to see a case like this through, and only a few people—and even personal injury lawyers—would find the case worthwhile without strong evidence to build on.

Attorney David Goldman has a strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and those with the means should do what they can to bring justice in all areas of our society. That belief has led him to help Florida's injured from being taken advantage of by corporations and insurance companies. Since 1989 David Goldman has been fighting for the rights of Floridians both as an attorney and by personally supporting our community.

Can You Sue If Someone Gives You The Zika Virus?

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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