Businesses and Coronavirus Liability Lawsuits

June 29, 2020


As coronavirus cases in the United States continue to surge, businesses are coming under fire and facing liability lawsuits. June 24 marked the highest single day of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. to date, with more than 45,500. The previous record was April 26, during the initial peak of the pandemic. Since then, the country has undergone widespread confusion and lack of leadership.

While many states remain under lockdown, others have entered various reopening stages, including Texas. Unfortunately, it’s clear “getting back to normal” comes at a price. On June 25, Texas Governor Greg Abbott paused reopening efforts as cases skyrocketed, stating, “the last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses.” He continued, “This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.”

Abbott has faced criticism for his handling of the virus in Texas, which now stands as one of the most affected states in the nation. Experts predict Houston may become the next epicenter of the virus if it continues on the same coronavirus track. As of June 24, Texas reported 5,489 new cases, which is about four times the cases reported in May.  In North Texas, 18 members of one family tested positive for the virus following a birthday gathering after one person unknowingly infected seven people. With the number of positive cases rising, it should come as no surprise that businesses are preparing for lawsuits. People have continued to file virus lawsuits nationwide since the start of the pandemic, with individuals and groups suing for medical malpractice, wrongful death, and workers’ compensation, to name a few.

If the coronavirus impacted you and you believe your employer or another business is responsible, please contact Shamieh Law and schedule a consultation today. We are keeping a close eye on COVID-19 liability lawsuits and are here to help you navigate the system to ensure justice is served. Today, we will take a closer look at virus lawsuits, specifically those involving businesses and their employees. To learn more or to schedule an appointment to discuss your case with an experienced Dallas personal injury lawyer, please contact Shamieh Law today.

What You Need to Know About Coronavirus Liability Lawsuits

Currently, businesses are lobbying Congress to receive protection against coronavirus-related lawsuits, reports The New York Times. As the country has entered various stages of reopening, employees have faced a tough decision – to go back to work and risk infection or lose their job. Many industries, including grocery stores and the stock exchange, have started requiring that employees coming back to work “acknowledge that returning to work could expose them to the coronavirus, and to promise not to sue if they were infected.” Sadly, this is not an uncommon request and brings to light the question of liability.

One of the most pressing questions to come out of the pandemic is whether or not companies can be held liable if their employees and customers contract the coronavirus. Many states have started to take matters into their own hands, passing legislation that gives businesses more protection from these types of lawsuits. Many salons, gyms, real estate businesses, amusement parks, and other businesses have also started requiring all customers and employees to sign liability waivers to prevent lawsuits. In some states, lawmakers have amended workers’ compensation rules to make it easier for first responders to receive benefits, but others have tightened regulations to protect businesses.

Liability and COVID-19

Liability is one of the essential components of any lawsuit, including those related to COVID-19. Generally, liability is regulated at the state level, and many states have already taken action to protect businesses, including:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • North Dakota
  • Wyoming
  • North Carolina
  • Utah
  • Oklahoma

Lawsuits filed in Utah and Illinois allege their employers “intentionally exposed them to the novel coronavirus or failed to provide adequate protection against it,” states The Washington Post. This is where the liability waivers started.

Still, others are grappling with the question of liability and are worried about legal action from employees and customers. The following liability-related lawsuits have already emerged in the U.S.:

  • The widow of a Safeway employee is suing for negligence and wrongful death, alleging her husband was forced to work in close quarters with sick co-workers
  • The family of a Chicago-area Walmart has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit
  • Nursing homes, meatpacking plants, airlines, and cruises are facing lawsuits for allegedly neglecting safety considerations

Unfortunately, litigation against businesses is challenging, and these cases are often unpredictable. More than 20 states across the country have taken steps to protect nursing homes against lawsuits. But family members are questioning the fairness of these actions and asking for justice. For employees infected while at work, workers’ compensation is the best option, but some states make it extremely difficult to receive compensation for an infectious disease like COVID-19.

What’s Next?

In the U.S., many business owners are concerned about the onslaught of pandemic-related lawsuits and what this will mean for their future. Unfortunately, there are still too many unknowns to have a good idea of where coronavirus litigation is going. Each state is unique, and many are at various stages of reopening, making it difficult to provide a widespread answer to what lies ahead.

The bottom line? If you contracted coronavirus because of another person or company’s negligence or misaction, contact Shamieh Law and schedule an appointment. As more cases make it to court, lawmakers will need to address workers’ compensation concerns and questions surrounding liability. As of June 25, meat-processing plants, cruise ship operators, and senior living facilities have been hit with the most lawsuits.