West Virginia recently became the latest state to pass COVID liability protection legislation. Republican Governor Jim Justice signed the bill that will afford greater protections to businesses, healthcare providers, universities and individuals from potential lawsuits relating to the virus.
The bill is called the COVID-19 Jobs Protection Act, and is meant to reassure businesses that by reopening they will not open themselves up to potential liability issues for a person’s exposure to the virus.
West Virginia is not the first state to enact this type of legislation.
In Indiana, the state enacted a law protecting similar entities from lawsuits alleging they are responsible for illness or injury caused by the pandemic. In the same month, Alabama enacted a law protecting businesses, churches, schools, government entities and other groups from COVID-related liability. In August and September, Georgia and Ohio enacted similar laws.
All of the states that have enacted such laws so far have Republican legislatures and governors. The Pennsylvania legislature passed similar legislation, but it was vetoed by Democratic governor Tom Wolf, who criticized the bill as potentially creating a public safety risk and going too far in shielding businesses from liability related to the virus.
The measure is being used in states as a way to encourage businesses to open back up, partially in hopes of spurring an economic rebound after a disastrous 2020.
Business owners should be certain to review the current COVID-19 protocols for their state and adhere to those protocols, while also being aware of the liability they face under state law for potential exposures.
For more information about the legal steps you can take if you believe your employer is not following proper pandemic precautions, contact a trusted whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group.