We’ve already considered the possibility that states will witness of flood of new coronavirus-related personal injury cases over the coming months and years — and now we’re seeing those projections come to pass as more local and state authorities decide to open up for business again. The pros and cons aside, coronavirus lawsuits are reality. How we adapt to these lawsuits will say a lot about how the law works.
Remember when scientists discovered a link between asbestos and certain illnesses? The lawsuits were both expected and immediate, but governments had to decide how to handle them. How do you balance a business’s rights with an individual’s rights?
The response was simple for many authorities around the country: create Workers Comp-like pools of cash for affected plaintiffs to pull from if they decide to mount a case against a new asbestos defendant. And that’s what happened. You can still sue for asbestos-related illnesses that result from an organization’s negligence, but there are many different ways of being compensated.
Coronavirus will most likely work in similar fashion.
There will have been employers who took the necessary precautions to keep employees safe throughout the pandemic — PPE, new safety procedures, social distances at work, working from home when possible, etc. — and then there will have been employers who dismissed the pandemic as leftist nonsense. Obviously, there will have to be some pragmatic way of compensation from the latter.
Republicans have already made the first move. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, wants to draft legislation to avoid a sea of lawsuits — the one we’re already experiencing with day-to-day phone calls here in the office. Democrats, on the other hand, want to hold businesses accountable for their mistakes. And isn’t that fair for the people who were hurt by coronavirus but didn’t have to be?
Remember: personal injury lawyers work on contingency and don’t get paid unless the plaintiffs win. That means frivolous lawsuits are at a minimum. Coincidentally, that means Republican arguments are frivolous.