In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have enacted business liability shields to protect businesses from pandemic-related liability. However, as much of this legislation provides immunity from liability—not from litigation—businesses must remain prepared to defend COVID-19 lawsuits. In this article, we examine COVID-19 business liability shields and their effect on businesses facing pandemic-related lawsuits.
Liability Immunity for COVID-19 Claims
At least 20 states, including New Jersey, have enacted legislation to protect businesses from civil actions related to COVID-19. Most of these laws require that a business have made a good faith effort and/or be substantially in compliance with applicable local, state, and federal guidelines for immunity to attach. In addition, many of these laws hold that businesses that have acted with gross negligence or engaged in wanton, willful, reckless, or intentional misconduct are not immune from pandemic-related liability.
Although the majority of COVID-19 legislation addresses these primary issues, some state laws take things further. For example, the Nevada COVID-19 liability law sets forth a heightened pleading standard for pandemic-related actions and identifies the court as the finder of fact on compliance issues. In addition, the Tennessee and Florida COVID-19 liability laws require that a claimant prove his or her claim by clear and convincing evidence—a higher standard of proof than most other states require.
The Bottom Line
Despite the enactment of COVID-19 business immunity statutes, businesses should remain prepared for COVID-19 litigation. Specifically, businesses must remain ready to participate in an extensive discovery process, as both the conduct of the plaintiff and a business’s mitigation measures will be critical in determining whether a case can move forward. Thus, liability shields against COVID-19 lawsuits, although they provide for heightened pleading and causal proof requirements, provide only a limited level of security to businesses, as they generally only bar frivolous lawsuits. In other words, businesses shouldn’t rely too heavily on these COVID-19 liability laws. Rather, they should remain prepared to address COVID-19 lawsuits as they arise.
Hackensack Business Litigation Attorney
Legal disputes are common in the business world. And when a business dispute leads to litigation, it is imperative to have experienced legal representation. At Rosenblatt Law PC, we provide comprehensive legal representation to a wide range of clients facing business litigation throughout Northern New Jersey and the greater New York area. Our knowledgeable business litigation attorneys are experienced at the negotiation table and at trial, making us well prepared to handle your business lawsuit regardless of the direction it takes. We have a hard-earned and well-deserved reputation as dedicated advocates who always provide our business clients with effective legal strategies. When you become one of our valued business clients, you can rest assured that your business lawsuit is in good hands. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.