Monday, 31 August 2020 21:35

Understanding COVID-19 Legal Claims Based on Sanitization

Written by Leslie Pujo and Wes Hurst, Auto Rental News


As we cautiously exit shelter-in-place orders and life returns to some semblance of normalcy, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will continue beyond the virus itself.

One area of growing concern is new legal issues and claims. Given the lawsuits filed already by consumers, it is likely that such claims will include an allegation that a customer contracted the virus from a business, including potentially a rental facility or vehicle. 


Part One of this article provides a general overview of the types of claims that might be filed by customers and the role a waiver might play for such claims. Part Two discusses the current status of federal and state legislation and includes references for guidelines on developing sanitization and other procedures to address the coronavirus risk. 


Note: This article does not address employment law issues.


Potential Claims by Consumers


The ultimate viability of claims based on alleged exposure to the coronavirus remains to be seen, but there have already been a number of lawsuits filed against cruise ship operators. The complaints filed in those actions focus on allegations of negligence. 


In essence, the plaintiffs argue that the cruise ship operators failed to take appropriate precautions to keep passengers and crew safe from the risks of COVID-19.


The complaints vary but include a basic claim that the operators have a legal duty to ensure that passengers are not exposed to unreasonable risk of harm. The plaintiffs go on to allege that the operators breached that duty by not implementing appropriate COVID-19 mitigation procedures, and that passengers were harmed by contracting the virus as a result of that breach of duty. 

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