Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
COVID-19 Litigation and Resources
Ask a Coronavirus Lawyer for Legal Advice
The coronavirus pandemic that officially began in early 2020 has resulted in changes to nearly every area of life. From grocery shopping, to recreational activities, work and academic environments, and more, new safety guidelines, policies, and regulations are constantly being implemented. Additionally, employers and workers alike are struggling to navigate the ever-changing laws surrounding paid sick leave and time off from work to care for ailing loved ones. With some states using curfew, facemask mandates, and other tools to try and slow the spread of the virus, there are a wide variety of state and local regulations that change on a daily basis, and the consequences for violating these regulations are not always clear.
Policies regarding COVID-19 may vary not only from state to state, but even county to county. It’s a good idea to look up the rules that apply to your current location as well as anywhere you may find yourself traveling in the future. In some places, failing to wear a facemask or abide by social distancing regulations can even result in a severe monetary fine. Labor and workers’ compensation attorneys are predicting a sharp rise in worker class action lawsuits due to companies that fail to set up and enforce necessary COVID-19 precautions.
What are the Statistics on COVID-19?
COVID-19 took the world by surprise and many experts have devoted a great deal of time and effort to tracking not only the spread of the virus but also the effects of the virus on society since then. The virus has affected areas including unemployment, healthcare, business policies, and more.
Let’s go over some important COVID-19 related statistics and predictions:
- The Labor Department reported an unemployment rate of 14.7% for April 2020. This is the highest rate of unemployment seen since the Great Depression. As of this time 33 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the United States.
- By June 22nd 2020, there were 9, 101, 396 confirmed cases and 471,575 deaths from the virus worldwide, according to Worldometer.
- Hospitality and travel are two of the industries most affected by COVID-19 due to trip cancellations, tourist destination closures, and travel bans.
- StatNews reports that telemedicine has advanced “by a decade” due to COVID-19, with doctors now having more flexibility to assess patients over the phone rather than in-person.
- StatNews also predicts a decrease in nursing home and assisted living facility capacity, with families opting for in-home care options to protect their loved ones from the spread of the virus which is particularly prevalent in the former environments.
- Officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are predicting a return to American-produced pharmaceuticals in American facilities.
- Results from the U.S. Census Bureau Small Business Pulse Survey conducted in April and May of 2020 revealed a severe negative effect on 51.4% of the small business respondents due to COVID-19, with the expectation of at least 6 months to reach a full recovery assuming no further shutdowns are instituted.
While legislation regarding treatment of the virus and its societal effects are still pending, some resources went into effect early on to provide aid for those in need due to the virus. Resources for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic include:
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave to employees who find themselves or their families affected by coronavirus. However, in some cases, employers with fewer than 25 employees may be exempt from providing paid leave. The two specific types of leave provided under this act include the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act Expansion and Emergency Paid Sick Leave. It should be noted that employers cannot require employees to use paid vacation, PTO, or sick leave for reasons due to coronavirus.
- Tax credits for employers. Employers providing leave under the FFCRA are supplied with a corresponding tax credit. It is imperative for employers to accurately track their employees’ leave to ensure they have all the information necessary to receive the full tax credit they are eligible for later on.
- Private relief funds. In some cities, private individuals have put together relief funds for small businesses to access, primarily to cover payroll. Look up private relief funds in your area to learn more.
- OSHA’s guide on preparing workplaces for COVID-19. OSHA and the CDC have both released guides for employers to follow based on their industry in order to best protect their employees and customers from contracting and spreading the virus. If your employer is failing to follow OSHA requirements for workplace safety, file a complaint and contact a labor attorney to learn more.
If You Were Wrongfully Exposed to COVID-19, You Could be Eligible for Legal Action
With the many guidelines and restrictions in place designed to protect people from contracting and spreading this virus, when a company fails to follow adequate safety measures, this could be considered negligence. This is especially true if someone can trace their contraction of the virus directly back to that negligence. It is the responsibility of every business owner, healthcare provider, and individual to do what they can to mitigate the spread of this virus. Those who fail to take the basic actions of prevention can be held accountable. If you or a loved one were wrongfully exposed to COVID-19 in what should have been an avoidable situation with proper attention to safety protocol, or if your employer is not following the law regarding taking time off, seek legal counsel to learn more about your options.