COVID-19 Liability Protections for Nursing Homes Drafted
The new COVID-19 liability protections legislation for businesses is about to make its way to the Governor’s desk. The much-anticipated legislation will prevent businesses from being held liable in personal injury lawsuits. While the legislation struck fear into the hearts of anyone who took the virus seriously and personal injury lawyers, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be as bad as everyone thought. Those responsible for the legislation are still proud of it. The concern, of course, is that nursing homes, which are included in these protections, would drop their standard of care in response to legislation that protects them from liability.
However, COVID-19 lawsuits will simply need an expert medical professional to back the plaintiff’s argument. That makes it more like medical malpractice lawsuits and less like a complete liability shield. However, the standard of proof in these cases is raised to gross negligence, which is a higher threshold for proof.
Why Bother With COVID-19 Liability Protection?
Personal injury lawyers were the first to point out that contagious disease lawsuits related to any infection are nearly impossible to prove. Right now, millions of health care workers are fighting with their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance companies to get benefits they are owed. However, the workers’ compensation insurers are raising the defense that the workers cannot prove where they contracted the illness from. This could leave some workers without any coverage at all.
All Florida employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. If they are injured on the job, the workers’ compensation fund compensates them for their medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages. If the workers’ compensation company denies the claim, then the employee can file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. The fear is that front-line “heroes” will be the ones to take the hit when they contract COVID due to their work.
How to Protect Essential Workers
As you can see, the situation leaves a void of accountability with the employers. Workers who would normally be entitled to workers’ comp after contracting the illness on the job are having their claims denied. This leaves them with only one remedy: A negligence lawsuit. The current legislation would make it all but impossible for a worker to file a negligence lawsuit against their employer if the workers’ compensation policy won’t pay up.
Other states have recognized this legal black hole and have passed legislation that will force workers’ compensation companies to err on the side of satisfying the claim. Workers’ comp companies would essentially have to prove that the work did not contract COVID on the job. The burden of proof is shifted in these states. If workers are left without coverage, you will see a push to protect front-line workers who are often the object of verbal applause but are still being jerked around by the insurance companies.
Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve suffered an injury, the Miami personal injury attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. can file a claim on your behalf and recover damages related to your injuries. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.