Coronavirus Creates New Premises Liability Risks, With Wave of Lawsuits ExpectedApril 9, 2020
When Businesses May Be Liable for the Spread of the Coronavirus to Employees & Customers
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused a worldwide panic, killing thousands, upending major industries, and sending global markets into a tailspin. As some experts focus on containing this pandemic, others are bracing for what may lie ahead—a wave of lawsuits.
In fact, coronavirus lawsuits have already been filed in courts across the U.S. The City of San Antonio has filed a case against the federal government over quarantine protocols.1 Passengers of a Grand Princess cruise ship have filed a coronavirus lawsuit over improper screening protocols that may have unnecessarily exposed them to COVID-19.2
And that’s the just the beginning—coronavirus lawsuits are expected to surge in the coming months.3 From the federal government to private businesses, all sorts of parties could find themselves in the hot seat.4
So, as the world waits for COVID-19 to be contained—and as you do your best to protect yourself and your loved ones, here’s what you need to know about:
- When businesses may be liable for the spread of COVID-19
- How to reduce your risk of contracting the coronavirus as you go about your day
- What to do if you or a loved one may develop the coronavirus
Spreading & Contracting the Coronavirus: When a Business May Be Liable
In general, businesses have a legal duty to provide safe spaces for their staff and/or customers. That can mean different things in different industries and settings, but in terms of COVID-19, it generally includes (but is not limited to):
- Sending symptomatic or sick employees home to seek medical care
- Providing supplies and equipment to sanitize the premises and promote proper hygiene (like handwashing)
- Taking the proper precautions, following federal guidelines,5 for employees who have recently traveled to outbreak areas
- Communicating reporting protocols to staff, so they can promptly notify the proper parties if they develop any new symptoms
Businesses—from retail stores, restaurants, and grocery stores to daycares, cruise lines, offices, and more—may be liable if they fail to take necessary steps to:
- Keep symptomatic employees away from places where they may come into contact others
- Screen symptomatic people for COVID-19, when necessary
- Reasonably prevent the spread of the coronavirus
Keep in mind that businesses may not be the only liable parties if or when COVID-19 spreads in commercial spaces. Depending on the circumstances, subcontractors (like janitorial companies) and/or others may also share liability for the spread of the coronavirus in these settings.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Contracting the Coronavirus in Your Day-to-Day Life
When you’re working, going to school, or completing other daily activities, use these tips, from the World Health Organization, to reduce your chances of contracting COVID-19:5
- Know the symptoms: Confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections are marked with symptoms like fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
- Practice good hygiene: Regularly wash your hands with soap and hot water. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Keep your distance when you see symptoms: Stay at least three feet away from anyone showing the symptoms of COVID-19.
- Cover up when necessary: Wear gloves and/or a face mask in places with large crowds. These precautions are also advised for health care workers, those who are sick, and anyone who’s taking care of someone with COVID-19.
What to Do If You or A Loved One Develops COVID-19 Symptoms
If you or someone you love develops the symptoms of the coronavirus:
- Cover up and get to a doctor ASAP: If possible, wear a face mask. Call in advance so your doctor can direct you to the right location and so the facility can prepare ahead of time.
- Contact a lawyer: Once your health is no longer in grave danger, meet with an attorney to find out more about your rights and legal options. An experienced Houston lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm is standing by, ready to answer your questions and explain your legal rights during a free, no-obligation consultation.
At the Amaro Law Firm, we’re dedicated to helping the injured successfully navigate the path to justice and financial recovery. Strategic and relentless, we can protect your rights and stand up to any opponent in and outside the courtroom. With our advocacy, support, and guidance, you can be confident your case is in good hands and that you have true allies fighting to help you achieve the best possible outcome.
More Coronavirus Resources for Up-to-Date Numbers & Protocols
- Daily Situation Reports from the WHO
- CDC Reports & Updates about the Coronavirus
- OSHA Protocols & Guidelines for COVID-19