The New Normal: Coronavirus Liability Waivers
The Trump Administration made national headlines after announcing that rally-goers were being forced to sign coronavirus liability waivers. In other words, they promised not to sue Donald Trump or his campaign if they came down with the coronavirus.
This practice, however, is not unique to Trump rallies. In fact, this could become the norm as businesses continue to open.
So what does that mean? Are these liability waivers enforceable? Do they allow businesses to take shortcuts when it comes to customer safety? Are you putting yourself at risk by signing one? In this article, we’ll attempt to answer those questions.
Liability Waivers from Employers
Some employers are forcing their employees to sign liability waivers. These can limit their liability, but they can’t eliminate it. Even legislation being proposed in Congress is not seeking to protect bad actors and negligent companies from liability. Ostensibly, this legislation is meant to limit their liability.
But what does that mean? Generally speaking, liability claims would have to pass a higher standard than your typical liability claim. Liability is based on negligence. In other words, party A owed party B a duty of care, party A failed in that duty of care, party B suffered injuries as a result. So when a waiver is signed or a new law is passed, it generally raises the standard of liability one degree higher. In this case, the employee or customer would have to prove that the employer or company owner did not take CDC-recommended precautions and this led to the exposure of their employees or customers.
In other words, there are limits to how much they can limit their liability. But some states are more willing to enforce liability waivers than others.
Liability Waivers and Consumers
A completely separate issue from the one mentioned above, is consumers being exposed to the virus in a public place. If you are a consumer who enters the property of a business owner, you have substantially fewer rights and less leverage than an employee would have on the job. The court is likewise less likely to enforce a liability waiver if the business is considered “essential” (like a grocery store).
Before you sign a liability waiver, you should consider whether or not the company is expecting the liability waiver to shield them from all lawsuits. If that’s the case, then you should consider whether or not you want to risk catching COVID for whatever it is you’re getting in exchange and at your own expense.
Whether or not you can sue is a separate issue entirely to whether or not the business can be fined for failing to meet specific health guidelines. The court will generally consider the public good before considering whether a liability waiver is valid. The court does not want to let businesses off the hook for failing to meet safety guidelines. But with a criminal remedy available, the waiver may still be enforceable.
Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured by a negligent party, the Miami personal injury attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. can help hold that party accountable. Call today to schedule a free consultation.