The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone but some more than others. With more than 500,000 dead from the virus in the U.S. and many more sick, out of work, or struggling with their businesses, it’s no surprise that it has triggered lawsuits. A review of the lawsuits filed indicates certain types are most common.
Business Insurance Lawsuits
One report of the lawsuits filed over COVID-19 in 2020 found that the most common type was filed by businesses. This mostly included bars, restaurants, and similar businesses that struggled during shutdowns.
These businesses have filed lawsuits against their insurance companies, looking for adequate compensation. Experts believe these types of lawsuits will continue in 2021 as businesses continue to struggle financially.
Workplace Negligence Lawsuits
Many people who contracted COVID-19 are blaming their employers. Citing negligence, these plaintiffs claim their employers failed to protect them adequately in the workplace. Workplace illness and injury are usually settled through workers’ compensation insurance payments. Finding an employer liable for a worker’s illness or death is therefore challenging.
Employers could be found liable in cases of coronavirus if they did not follow state and federal government guidelines. For instance, if an employer did not mandate the use of masks or distancing in the workplace, they could be negligent in employees contracting the virus.
One example of a workplace suit was filed by Norma Zuniga against Safeway. Her husband worked for the company and died from COVID-19. Zuniga’s husband worked in a distribution center where he and others complained to supervisors about safety concerns.
They said that sick employees were still coming in, and they didn’t feel safe. Zuniga’s lawsuit claims that Safeway failed to follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance. OSHA stated that workers with symptoms should be isolated.
Cruise Ship Lawsuits
Another large category of COVID-19 lawsuits includes those filed against cruise ship companies. When the pandemic began, many people got stuck on ships for weeks. Some contracted the illness while onboard and are claiming the companies were negligent. Some cruise ship lawsuits are class actions, bringing together groups of passengers who fell sick on board.
A group of four individual lawsuits against Disney Cruise Line state that the company did not allow passengers to rebook, even if they had risk factors for severe illness. The complaints also allege the company failed to keep passengers safe on board their ships, allowing groups to gather and buffet dining to continue. Unfortunately for the victims, judges have dismissed many cruise ship lawsuits.
Other Types of COVID-19 Lawsuits
In addition to these common types of lawsuits over COVID-19, many more have been filed for a variety of reasons. Price-gouging lawsuits, for instance, allege that some retailers raised prices on personal protective equipment, like masks, and household staples like eggs and toilet paper.
Family members of nursing home residents have filed lawsuits against the companies that own and run the facilities. Nursing homes and other care facilities were hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Many states provided nursing homes with immunity to protect them against negligence lawsuits. This is making it difficult for families to get justice.
Some businesses are facing lawsuits over hosting events despite state and federal restrictions. A venue in Maine, for instance, is being sued over hosting a large wedding reception that turned into a superspreader event. The event was later connected to three deaths at a nursing home.