Are There Any Legal Consequences for Intentionally Infecting Someone with a Disease?

Several NBA basketball players came under fire during the COVID-19 crisis. But their problems had nothing to do with their ability to hit free throws and layups. At a press conference held on March 11, 2020, Utah Jazz player Rodney Gobert decided it would be funny to touch every microphone before leaving. He seemed to be doing this in response to new media policies requiring the press to stay at least six feet away from coaches and players, not for the purpose of intentionally infecting someone. Unfortunately, Mr. Gobert became ill and tested positive for COVID-19 the next day. One of his teammates also tested positive. Whether Gobert’s actions endangered other people’s lives is up in the air. However, it does bring up the question:

“Can you get any kind of financial recovery if from someone for intentionally infecting you with a disease?”

The answer may be anything but a slam dunk.

Yes, Some States Do Have Laws Related to Intentionally Infecting Someone

In some states, criminal charges can be filed against someone who deliberately and knowingly passes a disease on to an innocent person. However,

Right now, the most front-and-center infectious disease is COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. Of course, none of the laws currently on the books mention COVID-19. However, the following diseases have been called out specifically:

  • Tuberculosis;
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV);
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS);
  • Hepatitis C;
  • Hepatitis B; and
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases not already mentioned above.

States vary in their treatment of people who intentionally infect people. For example, Illinois STD laws typically apply only to transmitting HIV. However, people may be charged with other crimes like assault.

Indiana laws specifically mention diseases other than HIV. Charges range from Class A to Class C felonies. Also, someone who deliberately uses body fluids to attack another person may be charged with bodily waste battery.

Michigan also may criminally charge someone who engages in risky behavior while carrying an infection that might be transmitted.

In addition to criminal charges, people may file civil suits against a person for intentionally infecting or attempting to infect them with a disease.

But COVID-19 Is Covered by These Laws?

Most laws regarding the intentional transmission of an illness relate to sexually transmitted diseases. However, people can spread coronavirus or COVID-19 through just about any type of close contact.

The consequences for intentionally infecting someone with COVID-19 may hinge on whether the transmission was knowing or not. Many people who test positive for COVID-19 do not show any symptoms at all. However, someone who knows he or she has the disease and takes action to intentionally spread it could be subject to both civil and criminal consequences.

Whether There Are Legal Consequences for Intentionally Infecting Someone Is Somewhat of a Gray Area.

Rodney Gobert’s behavior at the press conference may have been perfectly innocent. If so, it is unlikely he will face any consequences. However, if he did so knowing he was sick, people could hold him accountable for his behavior.

If you feel you have been harmed by someone’s knowing or negligent behavior, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against that person. The best way to know if you have a case is to speak with a personal injury attorney.

At the Dailey Law Firm, P.C., our team of skilled lawyers and professionals provide sound and current legal representation that you need. Call us at 844-342-5353 to set up a free consultation or use the Contact Form on our website. There’s no fee for personal injury cases unless we win.

We represent clients throughout the entire United States. You can reach us online or visit one of our offices in Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; or Valparaiso, Indiana.

Menu