Family Files Wrongful Death After Nurse Dies Of COVID
The family of a health care worker recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her employer after she contracted and died from COVID-19 while on the job. A growing number of COVID lawsuits are being filed against employers in Florida and around the country. While Florida’s rules regarding workers’ compensation insurance are quite strict, other states, like Texas, give employers the option of either carrying workers’ compensation insurance or not. Companies that don’t carry workers’ compensation insurance, however, can be sued. Several such lawsuits have been filed against Tyson after several workers fell ill with the virus. Meanwhile, many states are moving to protect businesses from lawsuits alleging negligence related to COVID-19.
Elements of Negligence
In some cases, negligence is very easy to identify. The employer failed to follow guidelines that were put in place by the CDC or other health authorities and a worker died as a result of that failure. However, some cases end up going through the tort system simply because the employer’s insurance provider refused to honor the claim. In that case, the insurance company ends up fighting off a lawsuit filed by their policyholder, the employer. The worker or their family is allowed to move forward with a personal injury lawsuit against their employer.
The catch is that the employee who files a lawsuit against their employer must prove that the employer was guilty of negligence. In other words, they failed some safety standard that was put in place by OSHA, the CDC, or even their own internal policies.
New Legislation to Protect Businesses
This case occurred in Missouri, but cases like it will show up in Florida sooner or later. Something else that is likely to show up in Florida is legislation meant to protect businesses from coronavirus litigation. It will be more difficult for members of the public or workers to file lawsuits against employers. This could leave some workers with neither workers’ compensation coverage nor the right to sue.
The aforementioned case is just the type of lawsuit that would be blocked by proposed legislation in both Missouri and Florida. While proponents of the protections say that it is necessary for preventing a flurry of junk lawsuits against businesses, detractors fear that some families will be left without any remediation for the loss of a loved one.
The text of the new laws will differ from state to state, but generally speaking, employers who are in “substantial compliance” with existing safety recommendations will be immune from lawsuits filed by employees. COVID lawsuits filed by customers would be almost impossible to prove since the origin of the infection will always be in question. The workers’ compensation, however, already protects employers from lawsuits. They just need a policy that keeps up with changing realities.
Talk to an Injured Workers Attorney in Miami
Payer & Associates helps injured workers file workers’ comp claims and other injured parties file lawsuits against negligent parties. Call our Miami workers’ compensation attorneys today to learn more about how we can help.