Capitol Correspondence - 04.20.21

Resource: COVID-19 Understanding Liability Protections

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To assist our members as they navigate the complex legal and regulatory environment surrounding the responsibilities of employers during the COVID-19 pandemic, we share an analysis by Politico Pro on the policy landscape on this issue. While we recommend that our members consult an attorney if they have any specific questions, we hope this brief will help our members understand the policy climate in the states where they operate. In addition to delving deeper on the point below, the analysis also flags key policy players to monitor.

“Almost every state has granted some sort of liability protection to health care providers, businesses or schools since the pandemic started, as a means of discouraging coronavirus-related lawsuits that aren’t centered on genuine negligence or foul play. As the pandemic has started to wane with the distribution of vaccines, about 30 states are debating legislation to extend or sunset their liability shields.

Each state is charting its own path on when to retire their legal protections after Congress failed to reach an agreement on federal standards. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups are pressuring governors and state lawmakers to maintain liability protections through the duration of the pandemic. Consumer advocates, however, have said that the protections eliminate any incentive for businesses to take reasonable precautions to keep their employees and customers safe.

Thousands of Covid-19-related lawsuits have been filed in the past year, according to multiple law firms tracking the litigation. But as of April 9, 2021, just 281 cases were filed that specifically concern medical malpractice, personal injury or wrongful death from exposure to the virus, according to an analysis from law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth.”