During the past few months, the entire country has been ravaged by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. As the country starts to get back to work, many businesses are looking to pick up the pieces as their employees slowly return to their jobs. While some employees might return to work physically, others continue to work remotely. Regardless, one concern appears universal. Many companies are urging the government to put measures into place to shield them from what they are anticipating to be a deluge of lawsuits from both workers and consumers that seek to blame companies for exposing them to the virus in the first place.
Already, court records are showing that a few lawsuits have been filed. Of note, some people have already filed lawsuits against cruise lines, which function very much like universities where people are crammed into tight places, allowing the virus to spread rapidly. On the other hand, many legal experts have already indicated that the threat of this liability is greatly exaggerated. This is because any personal injury lawsuit will have to prove that the individual was actually infected in that business’s physical location. Even as testing continues to ramp up in the United States, proving exactly where someone gets infected is next to impossible. After all, it is hard for doctors to say whether someone got the virus at that company’s location or walking in from the parking lot. When this is added to the fact that the virus could hide for up to 14 days in someone’s body before showing any symptoms at all, the problem becomes even more difficult.
So far, less than 50 of more than 1,000 lawsuits filed regarding this virus were related to personal injury concerns regarding businesses. The vast majority of them were filed against cruise lines. Walmart and senior care centers were also included in these lawsuits. Right now, Congress is busy trying to get another stimulus package completed to protect families and a shattered economy. Given that the government is focused on this issue, it might be a while before the government turns its attention toward lawsuits related to coronavirus.
The goal of a liability shield is to provide businesses with the confidence to reopen without having to worry about lawsuits bankrupting them. On the other hand, a lack of legal protection for Americans returning to work might prevent them from contributing to the economy and resuming their normal activities. It will be interesting to see how the government handles this unique issue. Anyone who has questions about COVID-19 and their options should reach out to trained professionals for guidance.