The spread of COVID-19 has completely upended the entire world economy and touched the lives of virtually every person in the modern world. Indeed, it will likely affect countless individuals and industries before its flame is finally snuffed out. Business liability is one of the many areas being impacted, as many employees are questioning whether or not their employers are doing enough to control the spread of COVID. Lawsuits are almost sure to come as a result of work-related COVID spread, and that begs the question: What factors will be responsible for determining legal liability if a business' employees contract COVID-19?
What industry you are in has a great deal to do with whether or not your business is held liable for any employee-related COVID-19 spread. This is for a couple of reasons. First, some businesses have industry-specific legal liability and are held to different standards in the eyes of the law. Second, some industries require touching or physical contact that essentially nullifies their ability to enforce social distancing, almost ensuring that these businesses will have an easier time avoiding liability findings.
Taking Necessary Precautions
Every business must take all necessary precautions to stop the spread. This may include regular cleaning, giving out PPE and ensuring appropriate social distancing. Failing to take appropriate precautionary measures could result in your business being found negligent or even grossly negligent. Making sure you take these kinds of precautions will help to make sure that you don’t end up with a bunch of workers’ compensation claims that you have to pay.
Awareness of Spread
If a business is unaware of issues and is clearly taking all legal and steps necessary to stop any potential COVID spread, they are less likely to be held liable. Generally speaking, for a business to be held liable for employees, they must have shown to be operating in some state of negligence. While laws vary from state to state, it does seem clear that a business can legally protect themselves if they are taking all necessary precautions and are unaware of any COVID-spread. However, their odds of being held liable will likely increase if it is found that the company was aware of the presence of COVID but took inadequate steps to prevent it.
Laws surrounding business liability are fraught with political, economic and legal complications, and while laws have been evolving on this subject for decades, it seems very likely that the spread of COVID will test these laws even further. Indeed, many states have begun to change their laws as they pertain to employees, businesses, and COVID, and it seems very likely that the area of business liability and COVID will further evolve over time.
If you’re a business owner looking to provide workers’ compensation insurance, we have some great options. Contact us to learn more information!