Private Liability for Public Health
12 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2020
Date Written: June 14, 2020
COVID-19 continues to spread around the world. Most disease transmissions are (one hopes) unintentional. But could one nonetheless be liable for unintentionally, yet carelessly, transmitting the disease? If so, when would liability arise, and how wide may its scope be? This essay discusses how private liability might complement public regulation in the battle against COVID-19. It first examines the law and economics case for establishing private liability for public health. It then explores causes of action that victims may bring against disease transmitters, focusing on battery and negligence. Legal issues arising from such claims, particularly surrounding the vexed question of disease causation, are examined. The essay finally explores auxiliary issues surrounding transmission liability, namely secondary victim claims as well as business (employer/occupier) liability.
Keywords: COVID-19, law, tort liability
JEL Classification: K13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation