Posted April 24, 2020
As states begin to grapple with how their economies will recover from the mandated shutdowns of COVID-19, some states are moving forward, lifting shutdowns and opening nonessential businesses. In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp plans to restart part of the state’s economy by allowing beauty salons and other establishments that require close personal contact to open their doors again.
While some believe that the shutdowns have gone on too long, others, including President Donald Trump and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, believe that this action is happening too fast.
According to the coronavirus model routinely cited by the White House, no states should be lifting mandates before May 1. And states like Georgia and South Carolina should not be opening until June. In fact, the model suggests that half the states in the country should remain closed until May 25 or later.
Regardless of the data, some states are pressing forward. But what happens when a state allows a business to open its doors again and someone contracts COVID-19? Can that person sue?
If I contract COVID-19 in a business, can I sue?: Understanding Negligence per se And Negligence
When it comes to business liability, there are certain acts which they must follow through to do their part in protecting workers and customers from harm. However, when they fail to do so, there can be legal consequences.
To understand a business’s liability if a customer contracts COVID-19 from their establishment, there must be an understanding of negligence per se and ordinary negligence.
- Ordinary negligence: In ordinary negligence cases, the injured must prove that the party failed to provide the standard of care which resulted in the actual and proximate cause of his or her harm. In many states, negligence can be proven via safety statute violation, regulation, or municipal ordinance which caused another harm.
- Negligence per se: In negligence per se cases, the injured must prove that the business or organization violated a regulation or law that was enacted for safety reasons, that the injured is part of the class of individuals that were intended to be protected by the safety regulation or law which when violated, caused the injury.
For example, if a nail salon opens, serving more than the permitted 10 customers at a time, and someone becomes ill with COVID-19, the business may be held liable under negligence per se.
Things become tricky, however. In many cases, these businesses will be able to argue the assumption of risk when the customers enter the establishment.
For business owners, it is wise to comply with any and all relevant COVID-19 regulations and guidelines to protect your employees and customers. For customers who feel they have contracted COVID-19 as a result of a business’s negligence, there may be legal remedies for you as well.
If you are a business owner needing legal advice, or an individual who seeks damages as a result of a positive COVID-19 test result–contact us.
We all must do our part to protect one another. But when someone does not comply with the law, you need justice. Contact us today.
Posted in COVID-19.