By now, it’s well known that the wave of litigation is rising with the country reopening after the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses large and small have worried for months about their liability exposure and the threat of frivolous lawsuits. The state of Louisiana has taken the rather extraordinary step of shielding most businesses from coronavirus related lawsuits. While New York hasn’t done the same, Louisiana’s experience offers an interesting look at the potential extent of coronavirus lawsuits.
Governor John Bel Edwards recently signed into law a series of measures to provide broad protections for Louisiana businesses. These liability limitations are designed to shield companies who provided needed services to the public during the crisis. The protection is retroactive to March 11.
The Louisiana chapter of the National Business Federation says the law provides “much-needed peace of mind” to businesses. There were three bills the governor signed, which provide the following:
- People will be generally unable to sue businesses and others for civil damages for injury or death from coronavirus. To be able to sue, someone would have to prove the high legal standard of “gross negligence or willful misconduct.”
- The same lawsuit protections as above will be extended to people and businesses who donated recovery services or products. Those might include items like hand sanitizer and protective clothing. It also covers those entities selling such items outside the normal scope of their business. This particular piece of legislation doesn’t just apply to the coronavirus pandemic. Rather, the protections extend to any state of emergency declared in Louisiana.
- Restaurant owners and employees are protected under the third piece of legislation. Those companies that operated in compliance with federal, state and local regulations can’t be sued for coronavirus-related injuries. These protections only apply to the coronavirus pandemic.
Implications for Businesses in New York
If you’re a business operating in New York, you’re probably worried about reopening after the pandemic. You may be concerned that someone got sick in your restaurant or business. Further, you might wonder if you will be held liable for their medical bills and other expenses.
Businesses do not yet have this type of broad protection in New York, and it’s unclear whether they will. Liability for exposure to coronavirus is not the only thing companies are worried about. Some of the other concerns include:
- What if social distancing rules were not completely enforced and someone got sick because of it?
- Can my company run afoul of privacy laws for inquiring whether my employees were sick?
- Could my company be accused of discrimination for asking certain at-risk employees to stay home?
- Did my company violate any workplace safety or workers’ compensation laws related to coronavirus?
- What if my company did something that violated employee rights?
These and other worries are understandable. And as long as the risk of litigation is out there, it will add further stress to your organization. If your New York business is facing the threat of a lawsuit related to coronavirus, you need swift action. And you need a law firm that understands what’s at stake and how to protect it.
The attorneys of Rosenbaum & Taylor have stayed on top of legal developments here and throughout the country concerning coronavirus. We’re also tracking some of the defense strategies emerging from other cases. Finally, we’ve built a reputation of skilled legal practice and strong defense for our clients.
TURN TO ROSENBAUM & TAYLOR FOR BUSINESS LITIGATION DEFENSE NEEDS
Right now, the plaintiff’s lawyers are meeting with clients to size up the possibility of lawsuits. If litigation comes your way, there will be little notice. With such precarious economic conditions as these, you can’t afford the risk of major damages from a lawsuit. Let the team at Rosenbaum & Taylor walk you through the issues and how best to defend your business. Call us today to get started.