Businesses Pushing for Immunity from Coronavirus-Related Lawsuits
As the COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented business challenges, many companies and corporations are spiraling into their demise due to the government-mandated order to shut down “non-essential” businesses.
For many businesses, dealing with coronavirus-related lawsuits would be an overwhelming challenge to take on. In light of this, American businesses are asking the U.S. government to provide immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits.
U.S. Businesses Want Immunity from Coronavirus-Related Lawsuits
Major U.S. businesses, spearheaded by the Chamber of Commerce, are lobbying Congress for protection from liability lawsuits related to the coronavirus disease, as reported by Reuters. Also, in a letter to the federal government, 20 conservative advocacy groups asked the U.S. government to protect businesses from “trial lawyers’ frivolous, costly, and job-killing litigation schemes.”
Many companies fear potential lawsuits associated with their failure to protect customers or employees from coronavirus, lost wages and disruptions, contributing to illness or death, and other justifiable and baseless grounds.
Coronavirus-related business litigation could increase uncertainty for many businesses, and some may even be afraid of reopening after government lockdowns are lifted. Many government officials have sympathized with businesses’ frustration over possible lawsuits related to COVID-19.
Larry Kudlow, top White House economist, told CNBC that the government needs to give American businesses “some confidence” that “you can’t take them out of business” or “throw big lawsuits at them.”
Will the U.S. Government Limit Businesses’ Liability from Coronavirus-Related Lawsuits?
It is not the first time businesses and lawmakers have weighed on the possibility of limiting businesses’ liability in tort law. Tort law is the area of the law that covers lawsuits against individuals and companies for harm caused by their negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct.
Supporters of tort reform argue that lawsuits against businesses are too punitive and costly and have a negative impact on the U.S. economy as a whole. Tort reform efforts have been around for years. So far, they have resulted in caps on damages in many states.
The discussion about limited liability for businesses is becoming even more heated during the COVID-19 pandemic as companies face bigger litigation risks than ever before. When the government issues an order allowing businesses to reopen, companies will not be protected against coronavirus-related lawsuits.
That is why businesses are asking the government to pass legislation explicitly limiting their liability in coronavirus-related litigation.
What Opponents of Tort Reform Are Saying
Arguments on the other end of the “limited liability” discussion, meanwhile, say that limiting liability may enable dangerous behavior and endanger consumers.
If businesses know that they cannot be held accountable for their wrongdoing or negligence, they have no incentive to protect their consumers and employees from COVID-19 risks and other hazards, opponents of tort reform argue.
Tort law creates a strong incentive for businesses to take precautionary measures and all reasonable steps to minimize the risk of coronavirus exposure and eliminate other hazards. However, it also makes sense that granting immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits would incentivize businesses to reopen and continue their operations, which would consequently help restart the U.S. economy.
Speak with our knowledgeable West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys from Pike & Lustig, LLP to discuss your options if your company is facing a coronavirus-related lawsuit. Call at 561-291-8298 for a consultation.