Monday, 31 August 2020 21:26

Assessing COVID-19 Liability Legislation

Written by Leslie Pujo and Wes Hurst, Auto Rental News


Part One of this article discussed the types of legal claims that customers might bring against a business following an alleged exposure to the coronavirus and the pros and cons of using waivers.

This concluding part will review federal and state limited liability legislation and discuss how that legislation might shield companies from some of the types of claims discussed in Part One. 


Liability Legislation


Even if COVID-19 cases ultimately are unsuccessful, defending them may be very costly and the threat of litigation may deter some businesses from reopening fully. As a result, the federal government is considering legislation to limit liability for COVID-19 claims, and some states have enacted similar laws.




The Safe to Work Act, introduced in the Senate in July, would limit liability for COVID-19 claims and create a safe harbor for businesses that made reasonable efforts to comply with applicable government standards and guidelines in effect at the time of an alleged exposure. The act creates a federal cause of action for coronavirus exposure claims and preempts conflicting state law.


A business would be liable only if a plaintiff could show: (a) the business did not take reasonable steps to comply with applicable government standards and guidelines; (b) the business’s gross negligence or willful misconduct caused the coronavirus exposure; and (c) the exposure resulted in personal injury to the plaintiff. 


Maintaining a written policy on measures to mitigate transmission of coronavirus, which complies with, or is more protective of, applicable government standards and guidance, would create a presumption that the business had made reasonable efforts to comply with the applicable standards and guidelines. 

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