Republican Lawmakers Propose Limits to COVID Lawsuits
Should businesses that have “substantially complied” with state requirements be immune to coronavirus-related lawsuits? Florida Republicans believe that they should be while those on the other side of the aisle contend that such legislation would reduce the incentive to follow state-ordered safety guidelines.
Two nearly identical pieces of legislation were proposed in both the House and Senate. While the proposed legislation blocks many different types of businesses from coronavirus lawsuits, the health care industry found its way into neither bill leaving many uneasy. Proponents of the bill, however, say that they will introduce separate legislation to protect nursing homes, health clinics, doctors, and hospitals as well. What that legislation will look like, however, remains to be seen.
Indeed, several other states have protected the health care industry from coronavirus lawsuits. But these states also passed substantial restrictions on what types of businesses can operate and were the hardest in the early days of the pandemic. Southern states were not among those to see high casualties.
Muddying the Waters
According to one lobbyist who represents the health care industry, the new legislation is not nearly enough. In fact, he believes that health care protections should be the centerpiece of any legislation to protect the “brave men and women who are on the front lines of this pandemic.” Yet the vast majority of health care workers to face personal liability in malpractice lawsuits—the hospital they work for does. Doctors do face individual liability for medical malpractice but are generally insured against these types of lawsuits. So it isn’t the “brave men and women” on the front lines that have anything to lose because their employers aren’t following safety procedures. It’s the hospitals that they work for and any immunity package that would protect “the brave men and women” would also prevent them from filing a lawsuit against their employers if they fell ill with the virus.
In other words, “the brave men and women on the front lines of the pandemic” are also going to be prevented from filing lawsuits against the health care industry. This includes doctors who work in hospitals as contractors and not employees who are negligently exposed to the virus. So the only one being helped by the new legislation is the hospital itself, its executives, and doctors who would otherwise face medical malpractice lawsuits for failing basic infection-control standards.
Nursing Home Protections
Among the most infuriating aspects of the proposed legislation would be any barrier to filing lawsuits against nursing homes. Nursing homes have contributed more deaths to the coronavirus numbers than any other industry in the United States. In some cases, the standards of care were so weak that ill employees were allowed to remain with vulnerable patients spreading the virus from one room to the other. To prevent lawsuits from being filed against bad actors incentivizes bad acting. The nursing home industry has shown no accountability. Taking away a grieving victim’s one means of justice is just cruel.
Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured due to negligent health care measures, you can still file a lawsuit in the State of Florida. Call the Miami personal injury attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.