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Lawsuits and COVID-19, What You Need To Know

Lawsuits and COVID-19, What You Need To Know

COVID-19 turned the world upside down. Stay-at-home orders, businesses shuttering, remote work, and school closings all significantly impacted life as we know it. Even the legal system saw unprecedented changes. Cases were put on hold, Zoom calls replaced in-person court proceedings, and some courts even shut down completely. As we slowly move back towards normalcy, multiple lawsuits are coming out of the aftermath.

While state and local governments preemptively passed legislation to try and stem the tide of lawsuits arising from COVID-19 and business liability, there are still cases pending against numerous businesses, governments, schools, and hospitals. Today, we will take a look at notable lawsuits that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic and address how the pandemic has affected legal proceedings.

Cruise Lines

Passengers and employees alike are alleging mismanagement and negligence by cruise lines during the pandemic. Serious questions have been raised about the precautions cruise lines took to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as many cruise lines continued operations as COVID-19 spread across the globe. 

The Washington Post questioned the procedures taken by cruise ships like the Grand Princess, where quarantines were not imposed immediately on people who tested positive for the virus. In addition to the lack of quarantine measures, deboarding procedures allowed passengers who tested positive to go home with minimal medical screening, possibly allowing them to take the virus back to their families and communities.

However, suits leveled against cruise lines have shown just how difficult it is to pinpoint exposure and litigate liability related to it. Of the 42 lawsuits filed in federal court regarding injuries or death related to COVID-19 exposure from a cruise line, only 15% have settled (on undisclosed terms), while another 40% have been dismissed. Of the 42 suits, not a single one has gone to trial.

Airlines

Just like cruise lines, each airline implemented its own procedures to manage COVID-19 and travel. Some limited the number of people allowed on a flight, mandated mandatory masking, and implemented temperature checks before boarding, while others did not institute such strict procedures. This led some airlines to be less forthcoming about the potential risk to passengers if an infected person was on a flight. Because of this, passengers, stockholders, and airline employees have filed lawsuits.

The most common lawsuit faced by airlines is from passengers who were refused refunds for canceled flights and travel. Another common lawsuit being filed is against airlines refusing to cancel flights between the U.S. and China. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) issued guidelines for mitigating exposure to COVID-19 during air travel. However, each airline is ultimately responsible for making its safety measures for employees and passengers.

Healthcare and Elderly Care

Staff, patients, and healthcare providers are bringing lawsuits against healthcare companies due to a lack of proper precautions to protect them during the pandemic. The most common entities facing lawsuits are nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and healthcare facilities.

Several of these lawsuits allege that these organizations did not take reasonable and necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among patients who were most at risk for contracting the disease.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities in California have not been given the same immunity from lawsuits that roughly 30 other states have during the pandemic. Lawsuits have controversially and effectively been blocked in other states that have brought cries of blanket protection from everything ranging from negligence to misconduct.

Federal, State, and Local Governments

Some state and local governments and individuals believe the U.S. government was negligent in handling the pandemic. These lawsuits allege that shelter-in-place and non-essential business closures were illegal and/or unconstitutional. However, according to the American Bar Association (ABA), these types of lawsuits are unlikely to succeed because of the broad power the government has to handle a public health crisis.

Private Employers

One of the largest groups with impending lawsuits is employers. There are two ways that the coronavirus has affected these cases. 

First, traditional employment lawsuits like retaliation or sexual harassment are now being replaced with allegations that employers ignored workplace safety laws. Second, the pandemic created new employee rights and imposed additional legal requirements on employers. If an employee feels these new rights or requirements are violated by the employer, the employee may file a lawsuit.

Many types of workplace lawsuits resulting from coronavirus are:

  • Wrongful death
  • Wage & hour disputes
  • Workplace safety
  • Privacy violations
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Whistleblower retaliation

These issues arising from COVID-19 are formed by individual lawsuits and class action lawsuits, depending on the company’s size. 

What You Can Do If You Think You Have A Case

Because every state has its own laws and regulations regarding COVID-related lawsuits, you need an attorney who is well-versed in the law in your own state. Most state and local governments passed laws attempting to protect businesses and organizations from lawsuits. However, there are still several valid issues with personal injury and worker’s compensation claims that must be addressed. Because COVID-19 safety precautions were primarily up to the individual businesses to determine and implement, they may have put you at risk for contracting the virus or being terminated due to workplace injury or leave taken while ill.

Hann Law Firm Will Fight For You

Hann Law Firm has a proven track record of success in San Jose and throughout California, helping clients with their legal needs. Whether it is wrongful termination, personal injury, or worker’s compensation, we’ll protect your interests every step of the way. We will walk you through the legal process with the highest level of service and provide you the care and attention that you deserve.

We understand that fighting for fair treatment from insurance companies and big businesses can feel like an uphill battle, but our expert attorneys are well-versed in working with these companies to get the settlement you deserve. 

Don’t leave your legal rights in someone else’s hands. Call us today for your free consultation.

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