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By Sanjeev Kumar
Founding Attorney

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, businesses continue to grapple with novel issues, such as how to protect the business from liability exposure while still being able to run a profitable business where employees can come into the office should they need to or want to. While shutdowns have not been in the news as much as they were in the beginning of the pandemic, if the past years have taught us anything, it is that we need to prepare for anything. While many businesses have fully opened up, many are still having employees work remotely. Regardless of how open to in person interactions a business may be, there are likely questions as to how the business can protect itself in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak or should employees or customers contract COVID-19 in the business setting. To help limit potential liability exposure, some businesses have tried to put COVID-19 waivers in place.

COVID-19 Waivers and Your Business

Should an employee or customer contract COVID-19 while on a business’s premises, it is possible that the business will have liability exposure and costly litigation may ensue. Would a waiver work to prevent or restrict this possibility from occurring? It remains unseen at this time.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, those filing back into the office or other business settings have had to observe social distancing measures, mask mandates, hand sanitizing, and more. Some businesses are also requiring workers and customers to sign waivers before entering a business. In fact, the New York Stock Exchange is requiring that traders sign a waiver before they enter the trading floor. Waivers are being required and considered by other business settings in an effort for the business to try to avoid expensive and time consuming litigation that may follow a claim that a worker or customer contracted COVID-19 at the business.

You may be wondering whether workers would be covered by workers’ compensation if they contracted COVID-19 in the workplace. Workers’ compensation is, after all, the common route for a worker to take to receive compensation for an illness or injury contracted on the job. To qualify for workers’ compensation, however, a worker needs to prove that, through no fault of the employer, the injury or illness was contracted on the job. Cold and flu claims, however, have historically not been covered by workers’ compensation as they are viewed as hazards of daily living. Should COVID-19 claims be similarly denied workers’ compensation coverage, employers will continue to have potential liability exposure in terms of negligence lawsuits. After the big hits businesses have taken over the course of the pandemic, the prospect of lawsuit exposure may be too much to handle.

It is uncertain, however, whether these COVID-19 liability waivers will actually work. The waivers are essentially asking workers and customers to assume the risk of contracting the virus on business premises. Whether the waivers will actually protect a business from liability, however, will depend on a variety of different factors.

Business Law Attorney

In these unprecedented times, businesses need trusted legal counsel more than ever to help ensure they are protecting themselves as best as possible. You can count on the Kumar Law Firm to provide your business with sound legal counsel and work tirelessly to protect your business’s interests. Contact us today.

About the Author
Sanjeev Kumar is the founder and principal at the Kumar Law Firm, which provides a wide range of legal services to entrepreneurs and business owners in the area of business & corporate law and intellectual property along with related areas of interest to clients such as business succession planning, wealth preservation through estate planning, and alternate dispute resolution.