During this pandemic, thousands of Americans died or suffered grievous injury as a result of exposure to the coronavirus (Covid-19 virus). Exposure rates were particularly high in certain populations, such as among factory workers, meatpacking plant workers, Amazon warehouse workers, nursing homes and hospitals. These entities have exaggerated influence on political matters in the United States, often acting through surrogate industry organizations like the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and other industry groups. To protect themselves from liability caused by exposing residents, patients or workers to the coronavirus without appropriate protection or quarantine measures, these entities utilized their political strength to obtain immunity legislation that protects them from liability for personal injuries or wrongful death caused by the Covid-19 virus.
These immunity provisions are particularly startling for a personal injury lawyer charged with representing Americans who have been harmed by the negligence or reckless actions of another. First, these immunity provisions apply retroactivity. Typically, substantive legal changes cannot be made retroactive in order to protect wrongdoers from actions that occurred before the effective date of the law. Retroactive legislation is unconstitutional. However, the immunity legislation applicable to Covid-19 cases was made retroactive to March, 2020, when the pandemic was recognized by most state governments.
The immunity provisions also broadly immunize all industries and employers for harm caused by the virus. This protection is unprecedented and creates a concerning precedent for future immunity laws. Imagine if wrongdoers could cause harm or death to you, your parents or your children without any accountability. In our capitalistic society, corporations can sometimes engage in massive wrongdoing in order to generate profits. This has been proven time and time again. Immunity laws simply promote negligent, reckless and, sometimes, intentional misconduct that could lead to severe personal injury or wrongful death.
These immunity provisions were particularly reprehensible because they were entirely unnecessary. In fact, most lawyers will not touch a Covid-related lawsuit with a ten foot pole. There are many problems with proving liability in these cases, including difficulty proving the mode of transmission, lack of standards for protecting workers and patients, and lack of standards for treating individuals who have been infected. In addition, many of the individuals who suffered the most devastating aspects of the illness, including patients who have died and so-called long haulers, were elderly or carried significant medical conditions that increased their risk of serious injury or death. Finally, in many instances, it is impossible to prove that an individual’s injury or death was caused by the coronavirus if testing was not done to confirm a causal relationship.
In current society, it is fashionable to look down on plaintiffs’ attorneys and personal injury and wrongful death victims who are placed in the unenviable position of having to file a lawsuit in order to hold wrongdoers accountable and obtain just compensation. Unfortunately, the average citizen does not know any better. They learn for the first time that the personal injury lawyer is actually their champion when it is too late, after they have suffered some serious personal injury or wrongful death. This immunity legislation should be a wake-up call to American citizens about how their rights are being manipulated and eroded.