We’ve been receiving a lot of calls about “needle stick” cases. I think there are a couple different causes. One is the increase in people with diabetes. The other is an absence of good disposal options in many public areas.
If the needle user can be identified there’s a claim against him/her and probably coverage under a homeowner or renter’s insurance policy. But in most cases the needle user can’t be identified. So attention has to turn to the facility (assuming that needle stick happened because of improper disposal at a public facility or business).
Conscientious businesses–particularly big businesses like casinos and big box stores–either provide or should provide “sharps containers” for disposal. Failure to provide safe options for getting rid of used needles invites improper disposal and needle sticks.
Victims of needle sticks have a couple of different types of damages. If they catch a disease (e.g., Hepatitis B) they are entitled to damages. But even if they don’t catch anything the fear of injury (the fear of contracting something) is compensable on both a short and long term basis.
This is an evolving area of the law particularly when it comes to the duty of businesses to provide appropriate and safe disposal options.