In April, the Center for Disease Control confirmed that the Zika virus is directly linked to the development of fetal brain defects. Of the at least 258 U.S. citizens who have been infected by the Zika virus, 18 of them have been pregnant women. All pregnant women and women who plan to become pregnant in the future should be taking steps to protect themselves from the Zika virus, but sometimes other people's negligence can make protecting yourself nearly impossible. If you become or currently are infected with the Zika virus while pregnant, here are 3 people who might be legally responsible to compensate you for any damages you sustain.
Most people associate the Zika virus with mosquitoes, but it can be spread through sexual contact, too. In most states, any partner you're having sexual intercourse with is obligated to tell you beforehand if they are infected with a sexually transmitted disease. If your partner knowingly had the Zika virus and didn't tell you before engaging in intercourse with you, they may face jail time and be legally obligated to pay for any damages that come of the virus should you become infected.
In some states, your partner can be charged with a crime if they transmit a disease to you via sexual intercourse, even if they let you know they were infected before becoming intimate with you. If you become infected with Zika while pregnant and you know or suspect that your sexual partner infected you, contact a personal injury lawyer to find out what laws your state imposes.
If your job requires you to travel to locations within the Zika virus outbreak zone, then your employer is required to take reasonable precautions to protect you from contracting the virus. Upon being asked to travel to a location where Zika was on the rise, were you notified of the outbreak? Were you informed of the potential consequences of contracting the virus? Were you trained on how to avoid contracting the virus and provided with the proper equipment to do so? If you answered no to any of these questions and you become infected with the Zika virus while pregnant, your employer may be responsible for any damages you sustain.
Medical professionals must also exercise a reasonable standard of care for you as a patient. With Zika on the rise, all pregnant women should be being asked by their practitioners whether or not they have visited an infected country or had sexual intercourse with anybody who has. Women who have an increased risk of contracting Zika should be monitored throughout their pregnancy for infection. Furthermore, signs of microcephaly may not be evident until late in pregnancy, so the fetuses of Zika-infected mothers should be monitored throughout the pregnancies for brain defects, even if they initially test negative for the condition.
Should you test positive for Zika while pregnant, your doctor should inform you of your options going forward and get your informed consent before performing any procedures. Informed consent means that you fully understand the risks and consequences of each of your treatment or procedure options.
Zika virus infections are on the rise, and with this rise comes an increased risk of pregnant women in the United States contracting the disease. If you are pregnant and have Zika or if you contract the Zika virus while pregnant in the future, ask yourself whether or not somebody else's negligence led to your hardship. And if you believe one of the people on the above list may be responsible for your condition, visit a personal injury attorney to start building a case against them and learn more about potential personal injury settlements that may be owed you.