Issue: May 2016
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Vectors of Risk: Zika, West Nile, and Similar Tick and Mosquito Disease Litigation

Introduction

Liability Risks for Vector-Borne Diseases

Zika virus and its devastating results are currently in the news, but Zika virus is not the only disease transmitted by mosquitos or other vectors, such as ticks. West Nile virus is also a concern, as are other forms of vector-borne illnesses such as dengue fever, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, malaria, and others.

 

Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, causing more than one million deaths annually. Global trade, rapid international travel, and environmental changes such as climate change and urbanization are causing vectors and vector-borne diseases to spread.

 

Injuries related to vector-borne diseases may give rise to claims of medical malpractice or negligence in the diagnosis or treatment of the illnesses. Other liability risks also may arise in connection with vector-borne diseases, such as claims against employers by employees who work in environments infested with mosquitoes or ticks. 

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others who may be parties in litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with vector-borne diseases.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to prevail on a claim for an injury related to a vector-borne disease? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for an injury related to a vector-borne disease? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician to employ?

Insurers:

Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy be avoided by proof that the health provider was not negligent or there was no coverage for the provider’s actions? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an employee’s vector-borne disease or related complications? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use? 


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a provider’s liability for malpractice or negligence for an injury from a vector-borne disease.

Physicians:

Presented is a checklist of items a physician must consider when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving the diagnosis or treatment of a vector-borne disease.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of injury from a vector-borne disease.

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s injury from a vector-borne disease is “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment.”

Expert Analysis

How Can Malaria Outbreaks in the United States Be Tracked and Possibly Prevented?

Caroline Buckee, PhD

What Proof Was Needed to Show Railroad Liability for an Employee’s West Nile Virus?

Marc A. Zito, JD

Litigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, may be mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.


Reasons To Reach Settlement

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to reach settlement, and not take the action to trial.


Reasons To Go To Trial

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to take the action to trial.


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what settlements have been reached recently in cases involving vector-borne diseases?



Medical Examples

Vector-Borne Diseases

This section provides detailed medical information on vector-borne diseases including the main vectors and the diseases they transmit, and vector-borne diseases including their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Also discussed are the patient’s prognosis and ability to work.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on vector-borne infectious diseases.


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Vectors of Risk: Zika, West Nile, and Similar Tick and Mosquito Disease Litigation

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Caroline Buckee, PhD
   Marc A. Zito, JD

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys
   Physicians and Health Providers
   Insurers
   Employers and Risk Managers

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons To Reach Settlement

Reasons To Go To Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Vector-Borne Diseases

Law and Medicine Resources