According to the Iowa Capital Dispatch, Iowa governor Kim Reynolds recently signed a bill that limits the kinds of Covid-19-related lawsuits that individuals can pursue against businesses. The new law protects nursing homes, businesses, and medical facilities from most Covid-19 lawsuits, but with some important exceptions. It is important that families who have been impacted by Covid-19 because of a business’s negligence understand what the new law does and does not cover. Ultimately, many cases of gross negligence involving businesses and Covid-19 may still be up to a judge to decide.
As with anything involving the law, these exceptions are important. If a person ends up hospitalized from Covid-19 or if a person dies from Covid-19, they may be permitted to bring forth a lawsuit. If the business, nursing home, medical facility, school, or church intentionally put people in harm’s way, the establishment could face a lawsuit. Let’s be clear, if you contract Covid-19, you can’t just go around suing every establishment you visited in the weeks before you got sick. But it is important to distinguish between getting sick because the country is in the midst of an outbreak and getting sick because an employer acted with gross negligence and malice. For example, what rights do people have if an employer requires a worker to come to work even if he or she is sick? Under the new law, would the employee and others possibly exposed to the virus have the right to sue? The Centers for Disease Control has urged the public to wash their hands regularly, practice social distancing, and to wear a face mask in public. Public places and places that are regularly touched should be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Should a business that flagrantly fails to enforce mask wearing or social distancing be held accountable if an outbreak is traced back to the establishment? Ultimately, matters like these might need to be dealt with in court. According to the Gazette, even under the new law, lawsuits are still moving forward through the court. For example, families of victims who have died due to Covid-19 who worked in meat processing plants are still moving forward with their lawsuits, citing gross negligence and misrepresentation. In one of the cases going forward, workers were told that their sick co-workers only had the flu. The sick co-workers didn’t just have the flu. They had Covid-19 and spread it to others on the job. It is likely in the weeks and months ahead that other families may come forward with similar lawsuits, involving places of employment where employers flagrantly lied or failed to take basic steps to keep workers safe, like asking them to stay home when sick.
It appears that Iowa’s Covid-19 lawsuit law balances the need for the public to be able to hold companies and establishments accountable for their actions, with the need for the courts to avoid frivolous lawsuits. However, the lawsuit law may have the consequence of deterring people who have valid claims from making them. The news reports the new law as an outright ban on Covid-19 lawsuits, but this is not the case. In cases of gross negligence, or where employers failed to honor their basic duties to keep workers safe, lawsuits may be able to move forward.
Eells & Tronvold Law Offices, PLLC is a personal injury law firm in Iowa City, Iowa that works with individuals who have been hurt due to another person or party’s negligence or neglect. Let’s be clear, you can’t sue a business just because you get sick. But you may be able to pursue a lawsuit if you visited an establishment that wasn’t following best practices, visited an establishment where an outbreak occurred because the business wasn’t following best practices, or worked for a company that wasn’t following best practices, and then you went on to get sick and require hospitalization. Families of individuals who pass away after being exposed to the virus due to another person or party’s negligence or neglect may also be able to seek justice on behalf of their loved one. Have questions? Reach out to Eells & Tronvold Law Offices, PLLC, a personal injury law firm in Iowa City, Iowa.
At the end of the day, a judge will need to decide whether a business, company, or party was negligent. If you think you got sick because of a company or employer’s gross negligence regarding Covid-19, you may have rights under the law, despite the recent Covid-19 law that has been passed. Reach out to the personal injury lawyers at Eells & Tronvold Law Offices, PLLC in Iowa City, Iowa today to learn more. Or connect with USAttorneys.com to get matched with one of the lawyers at Eells & Tronvold Law Offices, PLLC.