The Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak has affected all of us in a variety of ways. We examine new developments with the Coronavirus outbreak and the law. Some of us have lost our livelihoods, and we have to deal with the stress of wondering how to manage our expenses and bills. Others of us are having to learn how to work from home while caring for and trying to school our kids. This is an uncertain and scary time for most of us.
The Legal Sector Will be Affected By Coronavirus
While we do not know for sure how this will all play out over the next few weeks and months, we can be certain that all sectors of business will feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for a long time to come. The legal sector is no different. There are new developments in the law with the spread of Coronavirus every day. Right now, our courts are scrambling to figure out how to accommodate our legal rights while also protecting the public health. There are now restrictions on access to courthouses, and some courts have halted jury trials altogether. Many other courts and judges are moving to teleconferencing as a way of holding hearings in order to keep cases moving through the system. But with many, if not most, lawyers also moving their operations to remote work, delays and shutdowns are inevitable.
It will be interesting to watch the way in which Coronavirus also impacts litigation in the weeks to come. One area of law where we are sure to see Coronavirus lawsuits is medical malpractice. Failure to test for COVID-19, failure to diagnose the Novel Coronavirus, and failure to treat the disease will certainly lead to numerous medical malpractice personal injury lawsuits across the country. Will the shortage of supplies such as test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) that hospitals are facing serve as a valid defense to these kinds of cases? Only time will tell.
Civil Rights Suits
We may also see a trend toward civil rights lawsuits claiming violations of various constitutional privileges due to COVID-19. For example, prisoners in jails and prisons are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Many in the prison population are at high risk of complications including death. Civil rights organizations have advocated for official to release low-level and low-security risk offenders from prisons to try to reduce the risk of the disease spreading—not only to prisoners but also to prison staffers such as guards and prison healthcare workers. So far there has been little concerted effort among government officials in this direction. We will surly see prisoners file suit claiming endangerment or other violation of their right to humane treatment while incarcerated. Likewise, prison guards and other jail workers may file their own lawsuits under various laws and statutes that protect them from unduly hazardous working conditions.
Other workers may file similar employment lawsuits as well. We have determined that in this trying time, our delivery drivers, truckers, grocery store workers, sanitation workers, and first-responders are essential. We cannot function as a society without these individuals. These people are coming into contact with the general public far more frequently than others who are able to work from home or otherwise self-isolate. Some workers have already argued that they should be entitled to hazard pay or other increases in their wages. Additionally, if and when these workers get sick, they may sue their employers for any perceived failure to protect them during this dangerous time.
Another area of litigation is sure to crop up around insurance policies. Many businesses have been forced to close and are businesses that are losing millions of dollars, only to discover their insurance policies likely exclude pandemics. And there are insurers facing the likelihood of monumental claims that they may not be able to pay, leading to calls for a government bailout or Sept. 11-style victims’ compensation fund.
Roadrunner Law is Here to Help
While the outcome of this virus is uncertain right now, we do know one thing—we are stronger together, and we will get through this together. Roadrunner Law Firm continues to operate in a safe way and in accordance with our government’s guidelines for safe operations and social distancing. We are here to answer your personal injury legal questions, so feel free to call us anytime. (505) 444-4321.