Articles Tagged with COVID-19

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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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