States are finally moving to reopen their economies, and this means that many small business are inviting their employees to their office or retail site. But as you ask customers and team members back, what happens if they contract COVID-19 at your location?
Eric believes that all businesses can expect to see an increase in the number of litigation cases, particularly those involving wrongful death claims, where individuals allege negligence or even intentional infliction of emotional distress as result of COVID-19. He adds that any business that has a high concentration of employees working in close quarters are even more at risk.
Attorney Eric Swan Interview on Small Business Radio Show
According to Eric, the two most common claims will be related to:
- Failure to provide adequate equipment (like personal protection equipment) or training to employees on how to keep themselves safe.
- Failure to provide consumers with proper safety conditions.
While there is not a lot that companies can do to prevent lawsuits from being filed, Eric says that there are steps to minimize risk and prepare a defense that can help resolve the case more quickly.
First, he suggests that small business owners should check their insurance to see if it will cover these types of lawsuits. Next, make sure you are following the guidance from your local city, county, state, and the federal government specifically for your industry. Then maintain a record of what you are following since these guidelines change over time showing the safety measures you implemented. It is also important to document the training of these policies to your employees for increased safety. Even if employees or consumers waive their risk when entering your office or retail location, in many states there are limits to the effectiveness of this.
Eric emphasizes that this will not totally shield you from liability since many plaintiff attorneys will say this is the minimum the company should be doing. He suggests small business owners contact their lawmakers to push for limits on their company’s liability.
Listen to the entire interview on the Small Business Radio Show on how to limit your liability.