Your Legal Responsibilities when You Have COVID

ELI5: Negligence

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Do you have a legal obligation to keep Utah COVID cases low?

Utah COVID cases are hitting record numbers: each day more and more people are becoming infected with the virus. Though many places have mandated curfews, lockdowns, and masks, the virus has continued to spread like wildfire. A lot of US citizens are unsure of what their legal responsibilities may be when it comes to preventing the spread of the virus. Many people are shocked to find out that there isn’t much they’re legally required to do in order to prevent others from contracting COVID-19. However, there are still a lot of safety protocols you can follow to promote the safety of others while you have the disease.


When no mask mandates are in place, you are not legally required to wear a mask, even if you have COVID-19. However, stores can require you to wear a mask before entering their property. For example, if you are in a grocery store, and an associate informs you that you need to be wearing a mask, the store can ask you to leave if you refuse to comply with their policies. Many restaurants have policies such as, “no shoes, no shirt, no service”; stores requiring masks are no different. If you refuse to leave the premises, the store may contact the police and you could be arrested for trespassing. In 2020, many places issued statewide mask mandates in public places. When the government mandates masks in public places, you are legally obligated to wear a mask in public places.


Believe it or not, the short answer is no, you are not legally obligated to quarantine if you test positive for COVID-19. But it can get complicated. The government does have the ability to order you to quarantine. However, due to just how many Utah COVID cases we’ve seen, and how fast the new Omicron variant is spreading, ordering, then enforcing, the order for everyone who tests positive would be extremely difficult. Though you are not legally required to quarantine if you have COVID, taking extra steps to prevent the spread of the disease is the right thing to do from a moral perspective.


Since the pandemic first swept across the globe in 2020, many people have been asking if COVID-19 is a premises liability issue. For example, if you’re going to a concert, and you contract COVID-19 at the concert, is the venue liable for your illness and the resulting damages? The answer is, again, complicated. Though the venue may have been negligent in taking precautions against allowing the spread of COVID-19, you would still have to prove that you contracted the virus at the venue and at no other time or place. For this reason, it is difficult to sue the property owners of the places you contracted the disease at since no one can prove with any certainty where they contracted the disease.


The President of the United States is unable to force the citizens to receive the vaccine. And, it’s still uncertain whether or not the President is legally able to mandate that employers force their employees to get vaccinated. So, legally speaking, nobody can force you to get vaccinated. However, your employer is legally allowed to make vaccination a condition of employment. This is different from forcing you to get vaccinated since you could choose to go work somewhere that does not require employees to receive the vaccine. If someone gives you COVID, and they are unvaccinated, you cannot sue them for being negligent because there is no legal requirement for getting vaccinated.


It’d be pretty difficult to sue the person who gave you COVID-19, even if they did it intentionally. This is because you’d have to prove that the person who gave you COVID is, without a doubt, the person from whom you contracted the disease. This means that, if you left your home, or interacted with anyone outside your home within that two week period, you would be unable to prove who gave you COVID. However, just because you can’t be sued for giving someone COVID doesn’t mean that you can maliciously infect people on purpose. If you know you have the virus, and then you decide to cough in another person’s face, that is considered assault, and you could face criminal charges.


Though it would be very unlikely that someone could file a personal injury claim against you for not following the CDC’s safety guidelines, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a moral obligation to help stop the spread of the virus. Furthermore, just because you will not be punished for not taking precautions in a civil court, doesn’t mean that you won’t be punished in a criminal court if you violate a law or mandate. Since Utah COVID cases are high, look at the CDC’s recommendations if you’re wondering which precautions you need to take to keep those around you safe.


At Moxie Law Group, our mission is to make our community a better place by providing those around us with resources and compensation when negligence strikes. If you’ve been the victim of another person’s negligence contact Moxie Law Group today. Our experienced team is committed to helping you win the compensation you need to get back on your feet today.

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