Could we soon see a massive increase in coronavirus-related lawsuits?By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Can you sue someone over getting COVID-19?

Well, you can certainly try.

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The court system is anticipating a tsunami of COVID-19 related lawsuits in the coming year but how successful they will be is a great unknown.

Some restaurants reopened with customers being required to sign a COVID waiver before they could dine.

Also, campaign rallies now come with a requirement to register for tickets online before the event which includes a COVID waiver.

But will those stand up in court?

“I think that would be very questionable,” said Civil Litigation Attorney Bob Daley of Robert Peirce and Associates. “As an initial matter, you’re not actually signing the waiver you’re just consenting to the waiver when you click through a website. That would be an issue that I would certainly raise. Beyond that, if the campaign does not follow basic health and safety standards. I don’t think a waiver would be effective.”

Daley continued, “For example, we have a mandate from the governor no more than 250 people in outdoor activities. If you violate that mandate I don’t believe a waiver will protect you.”

For restaurants, the story is pretty much the same.

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“In either situation, though I think as a potential, as a person that represents individuals who were injured or harmed, a major issue that I would see with a COVID lawsuit is it would be very difficult to prove where you got the COVID from particularly in the case of a restaurant,” Daley explained. “If on the other hand, they follow all the health mandates and all the health guidelines, then perhaps a waiver would be effective.”

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But there is a gray area in the COIVD issue that Daley says is hard to get around in all circumstances including someone trying to sue you if you host a party and they get sick.

“It would be extremely difficult for me to prove if I went to a party at your house did I get COVID from someone at your house as opposed to someone I had saw at work or someone I saw in the grocery store,” he said. “I don’t think you’re taking on a whole heck of a lot of liability.”

He said the same applies to students who host a party at a college, assuming they have no prior knowledge of anyone there being contagious.

Daley also doesn’t see attorneys willing to go after a college student.

Parents going after a university because their student’s classes are all forced online and many of the school’s common areas are shut down have already started.

“There are already lawsuits with regard to housing, and there will certainly be lawsuits with regard to that because, from a practical point of view, the online education is not what parents or student loans pay for,” he said. “You know people are paying large amounts of money for tuition, and they’re getting zoom education, which is not the same.”

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For the court system, this is a legal iceberg looming on the horizon and Daley says there are some tough rulings ahead for judges.