Lawsuits in the Time of COVID-19
Liability and Litigation
As limitations across the country begin to ease up, many businesses could remain shuttered due to fear of lawsuits. An article from The New York Times’ business section features thoughts from prominent business leaders, attorneys, and politicians on the future of both litigation and the American economy. Republicans and business groups are asking for liability protections, but Democrats and workers’ rights coalitions are reluctant to put employees in a vulnerable situation. One side fears lawsuits from customers and employees who contract the virus and claim businesses are the source. The other fears limiting liability would fail to protect workers and customers from unsafe practices and increase the chances of infection.
Both sides agree that businesses need clarification and guidance about mask requirements and other precautions. For example, if the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set COVID-19 standards, they could be a good starting point for both business accountability and employee protection. Similar standards from the Labor Department and the Equal Opportunity Commission could discourage lawsuits, as well. Many legal professionals also argue that COVID-19 cases would be notoriously difficult to prove and, thus, unpopular in the legal community:
“Under current law plaintiffs have to prove the target was negligent [and proof of causation] is going to be daunting if not impossible. You never say ‘never’ in the world of liability, but the idea this is a looming tidal wave of lawsuits that are going to succeed seems to me overstated.”
As we discussed in our previous blog, “Will Coronavirus Inspire Class-Action Lawsuits?,” personal injury litigation surrounding COVID-19 will be largely up to attorney discretion. Some lawyers may try to build cases, but as the above quote points out, these cases will be risky and only a few of them will be successful.
Employment Law and Workers’ Comp
Workplace safety, privacy, and workers’ compensation are addressed at the state level, so many claims may be handled in these spheres. If these legal avenues remain available to protect employees, many business advocates argue that personal injury lawsuits should be suspended. They seem to imagine attorneys building a web of state and federal laws to prove their lucrative personal injury cases.
Litigation in the time of COVID-19 is still uncertain, and some personal injury lawyers will explore coronavirus cases. Nevertheless, the fields of employment law and workers’ comp seem especially pertinent in the current political climate.
In any case, attorneys need to make the most of their contingency fees. Our structured settlement solutions can help.
Law firms are businesses, too, and you can talk to the Structures team about your business plan before heading into COVID-19-era litigation.
Simply call us at (844) 382-8358 or contact us online to discuss our comprehensive solutions.