New York medical malpractice attorneys, Thomas A. Moore and Matthew Gaier discuss both historical and modern precedent that helps answer whether people who infect others with COVID-19 by engaging in negligent conduct may be held liable for the damage they cause, in their New York Law Journal column titled, “Liability for Transmitting COVID-19.”

Looking beyond health care providers to any individual who infects another with COVID-19, there is a long-standing precedent in New York for persons being subject to liability for intentionally or negligently exposing others to communicable diseases. Tom and Matt discuss some examples of cases going as far back as the Civil War era, as well as modern-day court decisions.

The KDLM partners conclude that consistent with current New York public policy, as well as the long line of decisions recognizing that a person may be held liable for infecting another with a contagious disease, there should be no question that someone who infects another with COVID-19 should be subject to liability under basic tort principles. Hence, where someone knows or has reason to know that they are or may be infected with COVID-19, and engages in conduct that exposes others to infection, they should be liable to anyone to whom they transmit the disease. 

The lawsuits on these grounds will face significant hurdles in proving causation, and in obtaining necessary discovery from a defendant who has not waived his or her privilege. However, efforts to hold people accountable for misconduct that exposes others to this deadly illness is important both in deterring people from endangering others and in compensating those who have been injured due to illness or death. 

Read the full column by Tom Moore and Matt Gaier on