posted in Coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 18, 2020
There is no sector of our economy which is free from the impact of COVID-19 virus which is currently plaguing nations worldwide. It may be months before we understand the full economic impact of this virus on municipalities, states, the federal government, and individuals. What we do know today is the roller-coaster ride the stock market has been on since the first case was brought to our attention. Forbes recently published an article warning this outbreak could result in a rolling recession which will have an impact on businesses of all sizes. However, today, there are victims of COVID-19 who are not just business owners, but individuals as well. Here are some of the potential problems we could face well before this pandemic is done ravaging the country.
Business owners depend on consumers to spend money. While people will still need to eat and take care of their personal needs, thousands of small businesses depend on walk-in traffic. Many small business owners have business interruption insurance but in many cases, this may not help them at all. The reasons for this is that most of these policies do not cover this type issue. While more policies today than ever before do cover a pandemic, because of the lessons learned during the SARS, MERS, and Ebola outbreaks, many still do not. Businesses such as restaurants, retail outlets, or others who may be required to perform sanitizing may be able to recover financially from the direct costs of the sanitizing, but may still lose money due to shutdowns, or slowdowns.
While President Trump recently announced some business owners will be allowed to file late tax returns, and be eligible for small business loans, not every business will qualify for this type of aid. Some businesses may ultimately be forced to close their doors which will impact the owner, their family and the employees of that company.
Depending on numerous factors, some of these businesses may also be facing lawsuits from other employees, customers, or suppliers. Employees and customers who are infected with COVID-19 may consider filing lawsuits against a business. Businesses who have contracts which cannot be fulfilled may be facing breach of contract lawsuits. We will be unable to tell for several months what the final economic toll to these businesses will be.
When an employee suffers an illness or injury in the normal course of their employment, they are generally eligible for any worker’s compensation benefits. However, with the dangers associated with COVID-19, an employer who does not have proper policies, protections, and procedures in place may be deemed negligent by providing the employee contracted COVID-19 as a result of this type of negligence.
Employees in the United States enjoy protections under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). When an employee becomes infected at work with COVID-19, the employer may be liable for the medical care of the employee. While employers should always have a policy in place which includes a communicable illness policy as well as a response plan, many do not. Employees working at a company where there is a lack of a policy and plan may have the grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Employees are not the only ones who are at risk if a facility is a breeding ground for COVID-19. Vendors, salespersons, customers, etc. may also contract this virus if the business failed to take proper precautions which could be life-threatening in some cases. Business owners may be held accountable for your losses.
We live in a mobile society and during this pandemic, we have been told to remain as far from others as possible. While many may be able to heed this advice, there are others who have previously made plans for a cruise, vacation, a visit to family and loved ones and will therefore be flying on planes, checking into hotels, and boarding cruise ships. These travelers depend on sanitary conditions existing on ships, planes, and in hotels. When an airline, cruise line, or a hotel chain fails to take proper precautions and ensure the safety of passengers and guests, they can be held accountable.
Oftentimes, cruise liners and airlines have small print on tickets, itineraries, or other documents provided to passengers which minimizes their liability. However, this does not mean you should bear the full cost of treatment and loss of income created by the negligence of these companies. Anyone who has contracted COVID-19, or another illness because of negligence should seek advice from an experienced personal injury attorney immediately after being diagnosed.
There are currently few deaths in the United States as a result of COVID-19 but we are merely at the beginning of this pandemic by most accounts. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidelines for cleaning hands, sanitizing surfaces, and has provided guidance to let everyone know who is most at risk. Unfortunately, those who are at the highest risk of danger from COVID-19 are those who may already be among the most vulnerable, our seniors.
One of the first, and likely the most visible case of COVID-19 in the United States occurred in Washington. The virus ran rampant throughout Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington resulting in 60 percent of the known deaths in the United States as of March 13. In addition to the loss of patients, 70 staff members and 12 first responders were also infected as a result of the infection. There are still 21 patients in the facility who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 which puts each staff member and remaining patients at higher risk because of the rate of transmission.
By their nature, nursing homes are considered “communal”. Residents often gather in large dining rooms to share meals, they often have activity rooms where residents may join together to play board games, play cards, read or watch television. Because of the way COVID-19 is spread, this puts an already vulnerable population at higher risk.
Nursing homes often have people from the general public going in and out all day long. Physicians, barbers, volunteers, food and medication delivery staff, and visitors may frequent the facility. Additionally, should a patient need to be transported to a hospital or other facility, first responders are often on site. The CDC has recommended enhanced guidelines to protect everyone in long-term care facilities from COVID-19, provided the guidelines are followed. Some of these guidelines include:
All healthcare workers should be taking proper precautions, even without COVID-19 including washing their hands frequently, staying home when ill, and wearing protective gear when working with patients who may be ill. All healthcare facilities should have specific procedures in place to minimize the risks of a patient becoming ill and possibly resulting in the rapid spreading of any type of disease or virus throughout the facility. When these procedures fail, the facility may be facing a medical malpractice lawsuit as a result of their negligence.
Has you or someone you love contracted COVID-19 as a result of negligence? Have you lost a loved one to COVID-19 virus? Do you have questions about COVID-19 because you are ill and not certain how you were exposed? If so, contact Gina Corena & Associates at our Las Vegas office at 702-680-1111 to speak with an attorney to find out what options are available to you. We accept cases from residents across the state of Nevada, and our attorneys are available 24/7.
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