Lawsuits Stemming From the COVID 19 Pandemic

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The COVID 19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented changes to society and the legal system has not been spared. In order to deal with the unexpected changes, the New York State Unified Court System has instituted COVID 19 pandemic related regulations and procedures. We discussed some of these procedures, such as electronic filing of lawsuits, in previous articles. Now, we turn to a discussion of New York’s procedures and regulations in regards to lawsuits specifically stemming from the COVID 19 pandemic.

Over 2500 lawsuits concerning the COVID 19 pandemic have already been filed in the United States. Among those lawsuits,more have been filed in New York than in any other state. To be precise, the recorded data shows that 645 complaints have been filed in the State of New York. Many of the lawsuits filed pertain to prison conditions; however, a significant number of the suits concern other issues. For example, multiple lawsuits filed allege plaintiffs were exposed to COVID 19 as a result of ill-provided working conditions. If you are considering filing a COVID 19 pandemic related lawsuit, you should note that many parties have been granted a certain level of immunity from liability.

The New York State budget bill passed on April 3rd, 2020 includes the Disaster Treatment Protection Act. The Disaster Treatment Protection Act applies to healthcare facilities and gives “immunity from any liability” stemming from injuries caused in the course of handling the COVID 19 pandemic. Notably, nursing homes are included within the Act’s definition of healthcare facilities. Further, the Act does not protect healthcare facilities from liability stemming from “willful or intentional criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct or intentional infliction of harm.”

The Disaster Treatment Protection Act remains in effect, but has recently come under harsh criticism by many New York State lawmakers who see the blanket immunity provided as excessive. The criticism has resulted in a renewed effort to have the Act repealed. New York State has not passed a law impacting the liability of non-healthcare providers stemming from the COVID 19 pandemic. Thus, the immunity provide to HealthCare facilities does not apply to all parties. Airlines are not protected by the Act, nor are Cruise Companies. Non-health care facility employers who create negligent working conditions are not protected by the liability shield. Thus, negligence by non-healthcare facility parties is actionable.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of negligence due to handling of the COVID 19 pandemic, you should contact an experienced attorney immediately. The Firm of Zalman, Schnurman, & Miner can help determine if you have an actionable case, and if our attorneys cannot help, they will make sure to point you in the right direction. For a free consultation contact our firm over the phone at 1-800-Lawline (212-668-0059), or 1-800-529-5463, or through email at info@1800lawline.com.

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