Coronavirus COVID19 claims are set to rise
Posted Jul 08, 2020.
Is this the ‘New Asbestos’? - Coronavirus COVID-19 claims are set to rise
As the UK population tentatively continues to emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown of the past few months, it is already becoming clear that compensation claims for deaths, injuries and long-term medical conditions resulting from the global pandemic are likely to become commonplace.
In what is widely anticipated to be a volume of claims activity that exceeds the levels seen over the past two decades in compensating victims and their families for truly dreadful asbestos related illnesses such as mesothelioma, potential claimants are preparing claims in both the UK, mainland Europe and the USA. A good example of such activity comes from Austria, where almost 6,000 people have responded to calls from the Austrian Consumer Protection Association (‘VSV’) who are lodging a criminal complaint over the Austrian government’s delays in closing ski resorts which were later identified as one of the pandemic’s focal points earlier in the year.
Group action claim
The VSV claim that almost 2,000 overseas visitors and around 850 Austrian nationals became infected with COVID-19 at the popular Ischgl ski resort, where an infected barman and likely ‘super spreader’ tested positive for coronavirus back in February. In addition to the criminal proceedings against the Republic of Austria, the VSV has also confirmed its intention to make a civil claim on behalf of at least 700 individuals, as well as helping people affected to make their own claims. In commenting on the pending legal actions, a spokesperson for the VSV legal department said:
“For us it is a very, very big subject, but it is also for us a very important action because we want to be a consumer organisation that helps consumers all over the world”
Prospects of success
Whilst the initial response and interest from potential claimants has been extremely high, there are a number of evidential barriers to success that will need to be carefully considered. In the Ischgl scenario, individuals will need to be able to prove that they were infected at the resort, which in many cases won’t be straightforward. Then there is the matter of exactly what the government and local authorities knew about the virus and when, which again could be very difficult to pin down given the fast-moving nature of the pandemic, especially in the early days. Many civil litigation and personal injury lawyers are suggesting that as each individuals situation may be quite different (eg: when they became infected, how bad were their symptoms, etc), claiming on an individual basis – rather than on a group action basis – may be the best way forward.
With similar group action claims emerging in Italy and France, where 600 doctors calling themselves the C19 Collective intend to pursue similar proceedings, only time will tell how prevalent such claims may become in the UK. Whilst news of potential individual claims against employers may begin to emerge here (In the USA, wrongful death claims have already been made against cruise line operators, care homes, and ‘big-box’ retailers), under English and other UK law, it is very difficult for an individual citizen to bring a criminal case against the Government that could open the way for further civil claims. Aside for negligence claims made directly against hospitals and healthcare providers, the most likely route is likely to be after a public enquiry and inquest, both of which take time and are not really geared up to address systemic, national-level failings.
Compensation Claims Advice from Bakers
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