Articles Tagged with COVID-19

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The inside of a courtroom, representing the personal injury cases of Leav & Steinberg LLP in New York, NYWhen the coronavirus struck New York, making sure that we could help our clients after the shutdown was critical. Along with the local court system, we relied on ZOOM and other virtual platforms to offer legal services.

New Work Strategies

Before we could implement any changes and develop a plan, we had to speak with our staff and see how we could manage their workloads. One of the things we did was ask our lawyers and paralegals to create a plan each morning for maintaining a certain level of productivity. Then, they send an email every evening of the tasks they’ve completed. This strategy helps keep our staff accountable and responsive to the demands of assisting our clients.

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As businesses continue to reopen, they’re taking steps to protect themselves from the potential legal risks of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some companies are now requiring customers to sign liability waivers before receiving services. It may be difficult to understand how these waivers work and what their impact will be on customers and employees.

The Current Waiver Situation

A person in a grocery store shopping for tomatoes

COVID-19 liability waivers are intended to limit a customer’s right to file a lawsuit if they get infected during a visit to a business. Hair salons, dental offices, and other companies are requiring people to sign liability waivers before letting them enter the premises. For example, people who went to the rally in Tulsa for President Trump had to agree not to sue the organizers if they contracted the virus.

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In observance of state and federal social distancing guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, local courthouses have either closed or postponed hearings. Use this guide to help alleviate the uncertainty surrounding scheduled court proceedings.

Courthouse Closures

The inside of a courtroom, representing the personal injury cases of Leav & Steinberg LLP in New York, NY

Trying to navigate closures of any kind during the pandemic can be frustrating and confusing. To find out about the status of courthouses in the state of New York, call your local courthouse or attorney to learn which court appearances are continuing as scheduled. You should be able to locate your courthouse’s contact information by referencing your case documents.

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With the United States slowly easing into the first few stages of reopening, some business owners and politicians have expressed concerns that this progress may be thwarted by a “new pandemic”, personal injury lawsuits. In light of COVID-19 recovery, some are petitioning for protections that will shield businesses from liability concerns regarding coronavirus infection risks stemming from reopening. Currently, it’s unclear whether Congress will decide in favor of protecting business owners from such lawsuits.

Calls for New Legislation

A medical professional securing their face mask
In New York, State Legislature has approved liability protections for healthcare providers in anticipation of a wave of lawsuits related to COVID-19 fatalities. Legal teams representing small businesses nationwide are requesting Congress to extend these protections to employers who fear that they may fall victim to frivolous lawsuits claiming employees or customers contracted the virus at their establishments. However, not everyone is on board with establishing this liability shield, as it could lead to potential dangers for the public due to the negligence of organizations caused by failure to adhere to duties of care. Edward Steinberg, the president-elect of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, voiced his opposition to this legislation by stating that, “Big businesses aiming to shirk responsibility and shift costs onto workers will make it harder to get Western New York up and running.”

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As cities and states begin to reopen while the United States continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees who are asked to return to work have concerns about contracting the virus. What’s more, lawmakers and business advocacy groups are pushing for a federal liability waiver, which would eliminate employer liability for COVID-19 infections among workers. In a recent Newsday article, attorney Edward Steinberg voiced his concerns for New York City workers, which are summarized below.

Inconsistent Safety Precautions

A person standing outside wearing a mask

While Governor Andrew Cuomo has mandated face coverings and six-feet social distancing for essential businesses throughout the state, the government is not currently tracking how well companies are following these orders. What’s more, many individuals have expressed confusion about the safety requirements. This lack of oversight puts employees at risk as they return to their jobs. Those who support the waiver call it a way to help employers adapt to changing regulations. Advocates fear that frivolous lawsuits would threaten businesses that act in good faith to keep workers safe as they reopen.

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