Recently, we have seen one of the most significant protest movements in decades, after the deaths of George Floyd and other African Americans across the United States. Whenever thousands of people gather, there is the potential for injury. What are your rights and recourse, should you become injured at a protest gathering?
Our nation has a long history of change through protest, thanks to the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
What if you are injured at a protest?
This amendment gives every person in the United States the right to peacefully assemble and protest in a public space. Note that this does not include private property. The First Amendment is also limited to “peaceably assembling.” The law gives the government the right to place reasonable restrictions on your speech and protest activities. These restrictions include the “time, place, and manner” in which you exercised them. This may include the requirement to have a permit. These restrictions are “reasonable” because they’re not based on the content of the speech or the reason for the protest. These are loopholes that injury claims can slip through, costing protesters thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Every health insurance policy is different. Unfortunately, most people don’t read the fine print, which includes specific exclusions to what the insurance company will cover. Many of these policies say that they will not cover injuries or illnesses caused by participation in illegal activities. These exclusions must be clearly written in the policy. Sometimes they exclude injuries sustained in the commission of a misdemeanor or felony. What does this mean if the police charge you with a crime? What if you are at a protest that begins as a peaceful, legal, and even permitted one, but it later turns into a riot?
Contracting COVID-19 at a protest
Because many people at recent protests were not consistently wearing masks, there are concerns that there will be an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. For those people with policies that would consider the recent protests illegal and the cause of the policy holder’s COVID-19, this raises concern.
Many people wonder if they should lie to their doctor about how they suspect they got the illness. It is never a good idea to lie to your doctor. This could make it more difficult for your doctor to give you the best treatment possible.
It also isn’t a good idea to lie to your insurer. This would be considered insurance fraud. Insurers are not likely to deny a COVID-19 case on this basis. Employers and insurers would have a difficult time proving that a protest rally is where you contracted the illness. While you should never lie to your insurer, you don’t have to volunteer information unless you are specifically asked.
What should you do?
If you have been injured at a protest and your insurance company is denying your claim, it is vital for you to know what your rights are and for you to have proper legal representation. Our team at White & Associates understands how the insurance system works, and we will work for you. Contact us today to find out how we can help.