As the courts begin to reopen across New York State, personal injury litigation linked to COVID-19 is on the rise. Fears about these legal challenges and their impact on economic recovery across the state prompted the NY governor to issue some specific executive orders that offer some measure of immunity and protection for medical practitioners and organizations early in the pandemic. Williamson, Clune & Stevens, a personal injury law firm in Ithaca, Syracuse and Elmira, wants you to be aware of certain changes in these matters.
Legal Actions Relating to the Medical Community
On March 23, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.10, which offered immunity for licensed healthcare practitioners that:
- Provide medical services in support of the State’s response to COVID-19
- Act reasonably and with good faith in recordkeeping
- Come out of retirement without current registrations to provide medical care
- Travel to New York from another state to assist in the COVID-19 efforts
This was followed on April 6, 2020, by the legislature of New York State enacting the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act (EDTPA). This Act provided legal immunity to any “health care facility or health care professional” from any liability, civil or criminal, for any harm or damages allegedly sustained as a result of an act or omission during the course of arranging for or providing health care services, if certain criteria were met.
More recently, the New York State Senate voted unanimously on March 24, 2021, to approve legislation that would repeal the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act. Governor Cuomo signed this act into law on April 7, 2021. This opens the door for personal injury lawsuits stemming from negligence or breach of duty of care by medical practitioners or organizations.
Legal Actions Relating to the Business Community
Almost 30 states have passed legislation to protect businesses against legal action stemming from COVID-19 related injuries or issues. Most do not condone or protect against clear cases of negligence. All are similar to a recent bill in the New York State Senate (S3725). This bill:
“Requires each place of employment to develop a business safety plan to provide reasonable and adequate protection from a pandemic disease for all employees and people who lawfully frequent such places; provides that employers who develop and follow safety plans are not liable for damages to employees or patrons due to disease during a pandemic.”
These laws do not provide protection for clear cases of negligence or otherwise acting in a way that could cause injury related to the coronavirus. In fact, one legal opinion warns against letting up or relaxing COVID-19 safety measures because of the possibility of workplace-related lawsuits. Another legal opinion expressly declares that such legal protections do not prevent personal injury lawsuits or provide legal shields from such lawsuits.
Personal Injury Litigation Relating to COVID-19
Williamson, Clune & Stevens, personal injury lawyers in Ithaca, affirms the right of any New York State resident that has suffered a personal injury they believe is related to COVID-19, either through the medical or business community, to seek justice and compensation for their injuries and related damages. While such cases may be complex, there are clear laws against negligence and other matters that provide reasonable cause for personal injury litigation.
If you or someone you love has suffered a personal injury relating to COVID-19, contact us today by calling 607-273-3339 or by sending an online message with your question or request for assistance. Your initial consultation is free.