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New Jersey’s Small Businesses Need Protection from Lawsuits Due to Forced COVID19 Shutdown

 the staff of the Ridgewood blog

TRENTON NJ, Early last month, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation into law providing healthcare workers civil and criminal immunity from liability for certain malpractice lawsuits that allege injury or death incurred during the public health emergency. That was an important way to support those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. Now, as we look toward a gradual opening of the economy in New Jersey, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is asking that the Governor and Legislature offer similar protections to small businesses that want to help lead the economic recovery.

“As small businesses have seen their revenue dry up the last thing they could withstand is having to pay for a legal defense if they are sued, when, in good faith, they followed all the required health guidelines,” said NFIB’s New Jersey State Director Eileen Kean. “These small businesses were shut down through no fault of their own, and as they commit to bringing employees back from unemployment and to helping rebuild the New Jersey economy, they shouldn’t face losing everything due to an unjustified lawsuit.”

NFIB has put forth a series of policy recommendations for state and federal policymakers regarding small business liability related to COVID-19:

  • Small businesses should be protected from liability as it relates to suits by customers or other third parties, unless the business knowingly failed to develop and implement a reasonable plan for reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19, and that failure caused the injury.
  • Permitting lawsuits should be limited to people who experience a serious physical injury due to COVID-19 resulting in hospitalization.
  • As it regards workers, the workers’ compensation system should be the exclusive way to resolve claims of work-related infection.
  • Fines should be imposed on unscrupulous trial attorneys bringing frivolous COVID-19 related lawsuits.

For more detail on NFIB’s liability related policy recommendations click here.

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