Even with businesses implementing COVID-19 safety precautions, they can still be the target of frivolous, costly, and time-consuming lawsuits, as many trial lawyers view the ongoing pandemic as an opportunity to line their pockets. That’s why most states have passed COVID-19 legal liability limits to protect businesses from such lawsuits.

Despite an earlier veto by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) of a bill that would provide COVID-19 legal liability limits for Badger State businesses, on February 23rd the Republican-led Wisconsin Legislature passed a veto-proof bill that should lead to the enactment of COVID-19 legal liability protections in Wisconsin despite the Governor’s opposition. 

Legislative action is still needed in both red and blue states to protect businesses from being the target of unjustified, COVID-19-relatd lawsuits. Legislators in South Carolina recently moved to take such action, passing S. 147 in the South Carolina Senate. S. 147 provides Palmetto State businesses with protection from frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19. That bill now moves to the South Carolina House. If approved there, the bill will head to the desk of Governor Henry McMaster (R), a Taxpayer Protection Pledge signer, who emphasized the importance of passing COVID-19 liability protections in his January 13 State of the State Address. 

“Another way we can also help our small businesses is by providing them common sense protection from unfounded pandemic related liability, Governor McMaster during that address. “Currently, 32 states have adopted some degree of COVID-19 liability protections. The pandemic and the various governmental and private sector responses to it are likely to present novel questions of law and fact. Our businesses, our healthcare providers, and educational institutions should not be put at risk or competitive disadvantage through no fault of their own, particularly after following safety protocols.”

While legislation to provide COVID-19 legal liability protection moves closer to enactment in South Carolina, such liability limits are on the fast track to passage in Florida. Bills like SB 74 and SB 72 would provide COVID-19 legal liability for healthcare facilities and non-healthcare facilities. These bills are supported by over 100 local chambers of commerce across Florida. Public opinion polls show 74% of respondents support enactment of pandemic-related legal liability protections in Florida.

As states continue to loosen pandemic restrictions and people begin to return to normalcy, lawmakers must work quickly to pass COVID-19 legal liability protections. Businesses should be encouraged to open safely without having to worry about overzealous and opportunistic trial lawyers.