Legislators Seek To Protect Businesses From COVID Lawsuits
With the 2021 legislative session starting next week, state lawmakers are fast-tracking a proposal to protect Florida businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits.
It appears easier said than done — that along with shielding the state’s long-term care industry at the same time — the latter proving to be more difficult. The extent of the liability protections, and whether all long-term care facilities should be shielded from lawsuits, are some of the issues that lawmakers will have to consider.
The House and Senate are out with different proposals to protect nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other health care providers from COVID-19 related litigation.
“When we talk to a representative or senator, and they say ‘what is your number one concern,' our number one concern is COVID, our number two concern is COVID, our number three concern is COVID. I mean, it’s COVID. That’s what we care about,” said Jason Hand, vice president of public policy and legal affairs for the Florida Senior Living Association, a group representing assisted living facilities across the state.
However, personal injury attorney Alexander Clem feels lawmakers don’t need to pass any legislation to protect nursing homes and other providers from lawsuits.
“Just provide quality care. Just take care of your residents,” admonished Clem. “Just follow the rules that are set forth by the federal and state standards. If you do that, and provide appropriate staffing levels, if you do all those things, guess what? You won’t have a lawsuit. There is your immunity.”
COVID-19 has accounted for the deaths of more than 10,000 long-term care residents in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis has said a fear of lawsuits is the reason some long-term care facility operators continue to restrict visitation rights.