New Law Makes It Harder To Sue For COVID Related Injury
A new law has been put into place that will make it harder for those who contract COVID-19 to sue companies and businesses that may have caused or contributed to the spread of the virus.
Higher Standards for Victims in Court
Any person that sues a business for any injury related to contracting COVID must file a specific complaint alleging what the business did or did not do, that contributed to the contraction of the disease. Additionally, the complaint must contain an affidavit that the injury was the result of the Defendant’s actions or failure to act.
Given that most doctors will not have personal knowledge of what another business or employer does or does not do, but rather will be relying on what their patient tells them, it isn’t known how the doctor can even legally comply with this requirement.
But even if this hurdle is reached by the victim, the court can then make a preliminary evaluation of the claim to see if there is merit. Specifically, the court will see if there was a good faith effort made by the business to comply with government standards or CDC recommendations. If so, the business cannot be sued.
By “preliminary,” it would seem to imply that the victim may not have the chance to get the evidence needed to rebut any business’ contention that they complied with the law. Furthermore, the law isn’t clear what a “good faith effort” is or isn’t.
If the Case Proceeds…
But even if the victim gets past these early hurdles, there are even further difficulties for victims alleging wrongful contraction of COVID. If the case does proceed, the victim then must demonstrate that the business acted with “gross negligence,” a standard higher than ordinary negligence. That higher standard must be proved by “clear and convincing evidence,” a higher standard than the typical “51% of the evidence” standard that applies in ordinary negligence cases.
Workers’ compensation claims may not be affected, given that workers’ compensation immunity protects employers from being sued by workers’ compensation-covered employees anyway for anything other than gross negligence.
Time Limits Shortened
The new law also shortens the time that people have to sue business for COVID related injuries. Unlike the standard 4 year limitation on ordinary negligence cases, COVID-contraction cases just be brought within one year of the injury (which would be the contraction of COBVID, to the extent an exact date can actually be ascertained).
The law will affect medical malpractice cases as well. For any COVID related injury, which can include failure to diagnose or treat COVID, or the transmission of COVID to a patient, the victim must show that the doctor acted in a “grossly negligent” manner. Like businesses, the physician will be immune from suit if he or she acted in compliance with CDC regulations.
Make sure your Tampa personal injury attorneys understand the latest trends in personal injury law if you are injured in any type of accident. Schedule a consultation today.