Can I Sue Someone for a False COVID-19 Test?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic first began, over 139 million people in the United States have been tested. With so many tests happening, it is no surprise that there have been some errors and false test results. Whether or not you can sue in these cases will depend on a few factors.
You Might Not Be Able to Sue for Routine Testing Errors
The reason that some types of tests have such a low accuracy rating is simply because of the limits of medical science. No one has been able to develop a test that identifies COVID infection with 100 percent accuracy. This is not something you can usually sue over. It is expected that there is some potential for error in diagnostic testing, and patients accept this risk as part of seeking a diagnosis.
False COVID test lawsuits are particularly unlikely to be successful because the tests are manufactured under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization Authority. Tests are a product designed to help combat a public health emergency, so the manufacturers, distributors, and administrators of the test are mostly immune from product liability and personal injury claims.
You Can Sue for Intentionally Mishandled Testing
There is one major exception to the general rule of not being able to sue for a false COVID test result. Under the Public Readiness and Preparedness Act, immunity against lawsuits is removed in cases of willful misconduct. So if someone involved in your false test result behaved in a way defined as misconduct, you can still sue. Misconduct occurs when someone disregards obvious risks, knowingly behaves in an inappropriate manner, or intentionally acts to achieve a wrongful purpose.
There have already been quite a few instances of misconduct in COVID testing. For example, a group in Georgia filed a lawsuit claiming that a hospital improperly collected samples in an attempt to reduce positive test results. In Ottawa, a lab is being sued because plaintiffs allege they knowingly administered a defective test. Other potential types of misconduct that may lead to COVID test lawsuits include:
- Technicians carelessly mislabeling samples
- Companies misleading the public with false claims about their tests’ accuracy
- Testing employees going ahead and using obviously damaged testing kits
- Manufacturing companies failing to include proper instructions with their tests
Any False COVID Test Lawsuit Still Needs to Prove Damages
It is understandable to get a false COVID test result, get worked up, and start thinking about suing the provider. However, it is important to remember that the legal concept of damage still applies. Essentially, a successful COVID personal injury claim needs to show that the defendant’s actions damaged you in some way. Being able to prove damages allows your Morristown personal injury lawyer to justify the level of compensation being sought.
So if you got a false negative result on a test after you were already undergoing treatment and the doctor immediately rejected the false result, you might not have been harmed by the false test. However, if you got a false positive and spent a lot of money on unnecessary treatments, you would have a case to sue. Another example of damages could be a false negative test that kept you or a loved one from seeking care until the symptoms were very severe. Any time a false COVID test result leads to mental, physical, financial, or emotional problems for you, you may have cause to sue.
If you have dealt with the stress of a false COVID test result, you may be eligible for compensation. However, the laws surrounding these sorts of personal injury claims are complex, so it is a good idea to have a Morristown personal injury lawyer on your side. Attorney Gregg Wisotsky is happy to answer your questions about COVID lawsuits. Call 973-898-0161 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.