Covid-19 and Defamation: Defamation Per Se Presumed Damages

A false accusation can ripple throughout a person’s life. This includes false accusations which you may have initially thought of as nothing more than a nuisance. In today’s world this would include false accusations that a person has COVID-19. When a person has or is suspected to have COVID-19 they are expected to self-quarantine. For most people this would mean being out of work for the duration of the self-quarantine in addition to other costs.

If a situation like this has happened to you, then you may have a legal claim against the accuser. In Virginia, a claim of defamation includes statements that are false that are understood to mean you have a contagious disease that is offensive to society. The term “offensive to society” is one of legal art, but COVID-19 has caused not just ripples throughout society, but giant waves. It has impacted society to the point that people who are pretending to cough on groceries are being arrested.

If someone has falsely stated to a third party that you have COVID-19, there are certain things you will need to have done to preserve your claim. First and foremost you must get tested for COVID-19. We are all aware that individuals who have COVID-19 could be asymptomatic. The ultimate defense to a defamation case is “Truth”. As such, you will need the physical evidence that you are indeed negative for the disease to be able to destroy that defense. It would also be a good idea to have the antibody test done so that we can show you have not had the disease at any point, to further dismantle the possible “Truth” defense.

Once you have obtained the results of your test you should consult with an attorney – and fast. In Virginia, defamation cases can only be brought up to one year after the statement was made.

If you have been falsely accused of having COVID-19 and you have suffered damages, or if you have been defamed, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at or 804-423-1382 to schedule an initial consultation.  We would like to help.