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Florida Passes COVID Liability Law

As COVID liability cases begin to make their ways through the courts, states have begun to pass legislation on who is liable for the damages. In Florida, they just passed a law that shields most insurers from liability related to COVID.

Florida’s bill is among a series of bills across the country that seek to protect certain industries from the fallout of COVID and their related costs. Some states such as Missouri have limited or removed liability on medical professionals if they follow the correct protocols in the event of an outbreak. Others, seeing the end of the pandemic in sight, have begun to roll back the protections or set a date for when they would run out or able to sue for related damages, with most being a year. [1] Regardless, the laws are only for the pandemic and even then they would have to prove that the defendant did not do their diligence to protect customers.

Florida has gone a bit further than most. With Governor Desantis signature, he expands liability protections to businesses. The measure gives civil immunity to corporations, hospitals, nursing homes, government entities, schools, and churches, among others, as long as the alleged negligence doesn't involve gross negligence or intentional misconduct. This also means that if COVID is proven to be the cause of a company’s loss, claimants have one year to sue and provide a doctor’s affidavit to the diagnosis. They will also need to establish in court that a defendant did not make a good faith effort to comply with public health standards and to prove that a defendant committed gross negligence under a "clear and convincing" evidentiary standard. [2]

More cases are expected to be brought up as the COVID related lockdowns and closures impacted everyone. States are moving quickly to determine who should be responsible for damages and lawsuits, with some taking the position that for the moment the medical industry shouldn’t be responsible. Each state has different rules regarding this, so review each state’s rules when concerning COVID and its related losses

 

[1] https://www.huschblackwell.com/newsandinsights/50-state-update-on-covid-19-business-liability-protections#linktojump31

[2] https://www.law360.com/employment-authority/articles/1369972/fla-gov-signs-sweeping-covid-19-liability-protection-law