COVID-19: 6 Liability Risks a Business is Facing After Reopening
As businesses across the nation are seeking protections from coronavirus-related liability, companies are facing a number of legal, regulatory, and liability risks after reopening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While businesses barely survived the government-mandated shutdowns, a possible wave of coronavirus-related lawsuits could discourage them from reopening to avoid liability risks.
Social Distancing Violations
As it is unclear how long the social distancing rules issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will remain in effect, businesses must ensure that employees and visitors are staying six feet away from one another. After all, a business may be held accountable if someone becomes infected with COVID-19 due to the failure to enforce social distancing.
Employment Law Violations
While employers should conduct daily in-person or virtual health checks to prevent and reduce transmission of coronavirus among workers, employee health screenings are a hair’s breadth from violating employee privacy and other employment laws. Consult with a knowledgeable attorney regarding the confidentiality of medical records from health checks.
Upon reopening, employers may wish to evaluate the health risks of their employees, especially if some of the workers are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. However, any disability-related inquiries and medical examinations are prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Thus, a business may face discrimination lawsuits on the basis of disability.
Workplace Safety Complaints
An employer may face complaints regarding inadequate workplace safety. But can a worker sue their employer for becoming infected with COVID-19 in the workplace or on the premises?
As the COVID-19 pandemic affected businesses’ abilities to meet their contractual obligations, many companies could face contract-related lawsuits unless they can protect themselves from liability by invoking the force majeure clause.
COVID-19 Exposure Liability
Businesses could also see a surge in lawsuits from customers, visitors, and other parties who become infected on their business premises. At this point, it is unclear how state and federal legislators will address businesses’ COVID-19 exposure liability after reopening.
There could be a wave of coronavirus-related lawsuits and business litigation as businesses begin to reopen. Businesses, meanwhile, are pushing lawmakers to pass legislation that would prevent or minimize COVID-19 liability. Many companies could go bankrupt due to their inability to defend themselves against coronavirus-related lawsuits.
Needless to say, closures of businesses due to their inability to defend against coronavirus-related lawsuits could disrupt the nation’s efforts to revive the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic and leave millions of Americans with limited employment opportunities.
If you are concerned about coronavirus-related liability upon reopening, consult with a West Palm Beach business litigation attorney to assess your risks. Our attorneys at Pike & Lustig, LLP, will evaluate your particular situation to advise you on how to minimize the risk of being sued after reopening. If necessary, we will defend your business against COVID-19 litigation risks. Call at 561-291-8298 to receive a consultation.