If your business is considering reopening, you need to check on some legal matters before you do. Many employees are not willing to go back to work yet, and you may be held liable if they should get COVID-19. Many lawsuits are already in the works across the nation and more are on the way. Congress has not yet decided whether or not a company can be held liable.
Many lawsuits have already been filed for various problems created by the pandemic. Republicans are seeking to set limits on how much liability a company will face in coronavirus-related lawsuits. Cases filed range from overpricing in-demand personal protective equipment (PPE) products to hoarding PPE to wrongful death lawsuits because an employee became infected at work and died, etc.
Big Lawsuits Possible
The stories of employees becoming infected and then developing problems of infecting others may be grounds for some big lawsuits. This could be an even bigger problem when those states do not meet the standards for opening set by the government, Already, Senate leader McConnell has provided a warning that the various state and federal laws could provide “years of endless lawsuits” for any business that opens early.
Many Lawsuits Being Filed
Some states have already made laws that are designed to protect business owners from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Despite this, many lawsuits of all kinds have already been accumulating. People have already filed lawsuits against cruise lines, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, insurance companies, China, and more. People are also suing local and state governments for lockdowns and no lockdowns. Contract disputes are going to be another area of lawsuits because of unfulfilled agreements.
The problem may even become worse when insurance companies may be excluded from paying claims because of the pandemic. Some insurers – if not nearly all of them – will include pandemics in the list of circumstances when they will not pay.
Many businesses are going to be filing for bankruptcy soon because of the lockdown and this is going to hurt a lot of employees who may also find grounds to sue. In any case, the list of lawsuits is nearly endless and may take years to get through them all.
Many Deaths Are Occurring Every Day
The pandemic is resulting in more than 1,000 deaths every day. This number is expected to go as high as 3,000 per day in the U.S. in about a month. There is no doubt that many lawsuits are going to be filed and it is probable that the number of them has only started. You can also expect that there will be many lawsuits from the healthcare industry due to a lack of PPE and some even being fired because no protection was provided and they did not want to take the risk by coming to work.
Difficulty in Liability Cases
Many cases will be thrown out because of an inability to prove guilt on the part of an individual from whom you developed coronavirus. Because the virus is spreading so rapidly, it would be necessary to prove that it came exclusively from a particular person or workplace rather than from somewhere else. Some states have laws that place criminal punishment on those who violate health-related laws such as quarantines, preventive measures, and more and may provide grounds for a lawsuit.
If your company does not want to take the risk of a lawsuit, then you may need to keep your business closed for the duration. You can talk with a lawyer to learn about applicable laws and be sure to watch for laws that may be forthcoming from Washington. A time will come when it is safer to open a business again, but it may be a long time before coronavirus disappears completely – if ever.