Will States Make It Harder to Sue for COVID-19 Violations?

judge with gloves covid-19

It seems as though statehouses across the country are passing legislation that will make it harder for citizens to pursue legal action in COVID-19 Cases.

Citizens who sue for COVID-19 violations might be in for a surprise in the coming months as the already complicated subject becomes much more difficult

So far both Arizona and Pennsylvania are noteworthy states in this new realm making it harder to sue for COVID-19 violations.

Both states are focused on changing the requirements that allow a citizen to bring a COVID-19 related claim to the court system. In both cases, citizens must prove gross negligence.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania state House Republicans have introduced a bill to limit COVID-19 lawsuits. Specifically, it would make it much more difficult for the public to sue schools, health care providers, and others over COVID-19 claims. (CBSN)

In general, it would make it much more difficult to establish liability when and if the Governor of Pennsylvania declares a disaster state of emergency.

“Supporters said entities providing services to the public during the pandemic should not also face the prospect of expensive or even ruinous litigation, while opponents said the bill would remove a valuable protection for the public.” CBSN mentions in a recent article.

“We should not reinjure them, especially financially, by some lawsuit that could put them out of business,” said Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre.

Arizona

State representatives already passed a bill as far back as Mid May 2020, that placed new hurdles in the paths of people suing businesses, churches, and schools over any COVID-19 claims.

The bill states that victims of the virus or surviving family members could only sue an organization or company if they could prove that the group was grossly negligent, which related to willful misconduct. (Tuscon.com)

The idea is that allowing people to sue for COVID-19 violations will prevent businesses from operating properly, possibly hindering the economy even further.

Rep. John Kavanagh says “There’s a great cloud of fear that hangs over the business community about being sued. It’s slowing down their efforts to go back and open, to get their employees back, to get everybody working, get tax revenue back in to fund programs. And this will go a long way to alleviating that fear.”

The Hurdles You’ll Face If You Sue For COVID-19 Violations

But even as hundreds of COVID-19 claims are filed, what are the chances of success? As more states attempt to make it difficult to sue for COVID-19 violations, there are 2 major hurdles that plaintiffs must pass.

– You will have to prove gross negligence and willful misconduct. It would mean that you have to prove that the defendant (company, school, or governing body) acted in a way that was extremely reckless or prove that they knew what they were doing was reckless but did it anyway.

– You will also have to prove that you contracted the COVID-19 virus at work, during your duties. Proving this will be extremely difficult because the virus is so common and highly infectious.

Right now, supermarket Chain Publix is being sued by the family of a worker who died of COVID-19. (NBC)

What Responsibilities do Employers Have?

As of this writing, all non-federal businesses are not required by law to follow CDC coronavirus safety guidelines. (USAToday)

But here is where the grey area exists.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to establish a workplace that’s “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm” to employees. To meet that standard, OSHA is advising businesses to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including instructing employees to keep six feet away from co-workers or customers, taking temperatures, disinfecting surfaces, and providing face masks, hand sanitizers, and barriers when appropriate.

Visit Ballopedia.org or a full list of some of the most recent COVID-19 related lawsuits. If you decide you want to sue for COVID-19 violations, speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Business should also consider finding high risk merchant accounts that provide the best possible protections at all times.

About The Author

Michael Steinger

Michael Steinger

The Florida BarFlorida Bar Young Lawyers DivisionMillion Dollar Advocates ForumMillion Dollar Advocates ForumBest Workers Compensation Attorneys in MiamiBest Car Accident Lawyers in MiamiLawyers of distinction

MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.

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